Why You Should Laugh More

A lack of joy, a feeling of oppressiveness or stress. In today’s fast-paced world these feelings can arise with frequency and ferocity. So how do you change your outlook? Look to something or someone who makes you laugh.

Laughter, according to Patrick Ricker, LCPC, counselor with Meritus Behavioral Health, is truly the best medicine. In fact, gelotology, the study of laughter and its effects on the body, promotes laughter as a therapeutic measure. Research shows that laughter can:

  1. Release endorphins, the feel-good chemical, which act as a natural pain killer
  2. Strengthen the immune system
  3. Boost heart rate and improves blood flow
  4. Relax the body and relives tension
  5. Improve your mood, reduce feelings of depression and make you happier

“Many illnesses are impacted by stress,” says Patrick. “Laughter provides an antidote to chronic stress.”

Adding humor to your life

Patrick believes you must first change your way of thinking and let go of negative viewpoints. Next, seek out people who are humorous and share funny stories with them. “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people," according to Victor Borge, one of Patrick's favorite comedians.

Finally, identify what makes you laugh. Perhaps it’s reruns of The Office or Seinfeld or maybe The Three Stooges gets your belly shaking. “Find your prescription for humor and stick with it,” says Patrick.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Patrick acknowledges that life is filled with ups and downs and some circumstances warrant a somber approach, but he encourages people to seek out laughter as much as possible. And to quote Betty White, actress, comedian and author:

“It's your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don't take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.”