Have you ever paid attention to how laughing affects your whole body? I don’t mean the snorts and snot and the aching cheeks, though those are pretty spectacular as well. What I’d like to take notice of during the next several seconds is how it affects your physical, mental, and spiritual peace.
Physical Benefits of Laughing
Mayo-Clinic outlines some short and long-term benefits of laughter. A good giggle increases your intake of oxygen-rich air. Having a laugh stimulates your organs and increases endorphins. It releases tension and stress leaving you with a relaxed feeling. Laughter really is great medicine as it releases natural painkillers and chemicals that can improve your immune system.
Mental Benefits of Humor
A well told joke is good for your heart, lungs, tense muscles, and immunity. Did you know it has a lasting impact on your state of mind? Natural chemicals called endorphins are released into your body. These chemicals promote well-being, relieve stress, and boost happiness. Cortisol, referred to as the stress hormone, is also released into your body. Laughing defuses anger and connects us to one another. When we learn to laugh at our mistakes instead of falling into shaming thoughts, we ease anxiety and promote healing.
Spiritual Benefits of a Giggle
Religion often portrays a holy sadness, but that portrayal isn’t honest to the ethos of those same faiths. Humor and laughter are vital parts of the spiritual life. Humor paves a way towards inner joy, regardless of life’s situations.
Renee Garfinkel Ph.D., asks the question, “Does your faith have a sense of humor?” Because it should! When God made this world and declared it was good and then made humans to enjoy it. Instead we often live life as though our theology should be built on fear. God accepts you, exactly as you are, so stop beating yourself up. Humor cancels out fear, the two cannot take up the same space. Laughter and joy are worship. It is looking at the world that God created and joining in agreement that what was made was and is good. Laughter invites community and disarms anxiety, shame, and stress. Humor welcomes someone into a group and lets our guard down so we can truly connect.
A study on the therapeutic value of laughter in medicine by Ramon Mora-Ripoll, the medical scientific director at Organizacién Mundial de la Risa in Barcelona, Spain, concluded that “Laughter has shown physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits… Although there is not enough data to demonstrate that laughter is an all-around healing agent, this review concludes that there exists sufficient evidence to suggest that laughter has some positive, quantifiable effects on certain aspects of health. In this era of evidence-based medicine, it would be appropriate for laughter to be used as a complementary/alternative medicine in the prevention and treatment of illnesses, although further well-designed research is warranted.”
So, go have a good laugh! Grab the comic section of the newspaper, subscribe to a joke a day text message, hang funny pictures around your office, and go see a comedy. Your heart, mind, and soul will be better for it.