An infant’s smile or a child’s laugh is magical. Receiving a smile from an infant or child elicits an automatic smile from any adult. Parents, grandparents and adults alike will perform varying degrees of happy face antics in the hope of getting a baby to smile. Medical studies have determined that laughing is both contagious and healthy.
I it’s most demure mode, laughing will manifest itself visually as a smile maybe coupled with some wide eye contact. At the other extreme end of the laughing scale, you will realize Visual, Kinesthetic, and Auditory displays – leg slapping, belly shaking, body contorting laughter! Just thinking about this ‘Laugh Attack’ brings a smile to your face. Remembering or thinking about laughter itself physically and mentally emotes all the positive effects of actually laughing.
The beautiful thing about laughter is that it is contagious. It matters not whether you initiate laughing or it comes from some other source, the health benefits of laughing have been studied and documented.
Laughter is the BEST MEDICINE!
Yet, laughter is still one of the least understood of human behaviors and one that is just now a serious study by scientists. Science has been able to determine three parts of the brain are activated during a good laugh:
1) a thinking or cognitive area for understanding the joke,
2) a movement or kinesthetic part for initiating muscle movement, and
3) an emotional region that derives the “giddy” feeling. Why do people laugh at jokes delivered while others laugh at incongruities like pain inflicted or a threatening situations? Is laughter a signal indicating a action is meant “in fun”? These things are still being studied.
Laughter makes us (and others) feel better.
Studies have identified a number of areas, where applying laughter, will be a positive and healthy experience. Feel better by laughing:
1) Health and laughing
A) lifts up your mood
B) is contagious and positive
C) is stress reducing
D) has proven long term connections to improved mental health
2) Learning and laughter has shown that
A) levity as a teaching style reduces fear and anxiety and opens students up to learning and absorbing
B) well-planned, appropriate, contextual humor can help students ingrain information
3) Relationships and laughing
A) help create a social lubricant that, in groups, encourages cooperation and altruistic behavior
B) is believed to be one of the earliest forms of communication; especially, emotional communication. Laughter could have preceded the spoken word and bonded groups in pre-historic society.
“By the time a child reaches nursery school, he or she will laugh about 300 times a day. Adults laugh an average of 17 times a day.” “Science of Laughter” Discovery Health
Clearly as adults we do not laugh enough. Here are ten ideas to improve and increase laughter [and fun] in your life:
1) Receive, Share and Tell Jokes – email is awesome for this and so are social gatherings. Telling jokes (and learning what jokes are appropriate) will prove to improve your social and public speaking skills.
2) Share humorous personal stories – stories about yourself will allow you to laugh at yourself. Laughing at yourself is a great way to express and learn from our mistakes and little foibles.
3) With your family and friends play group games that require group interaction (Parlour Games) – old standards and board games (like Charades, Pictionary, Balderdash, Cranium, Trivial Pursuit, Humzinger) or more organized themed events like a Murder Mystery Night. Excellent for a varied group of age and shyness. These are just FUN! Play like children!
4) Laugh out loud – not just a chuckle, a deep laugh that works the lungs and belly (maybe even brings tears to your eyes). Laughing equals Happy and Happy equals Healthy!
5) Karoke or new video games like Guitar Hero – whether at home or at a public event, singing and music are excellent and fun group situations that will help create fun and laughter!
6) Meet your group at a favorite pub or watering hole – conversation and stories will naturally make you laugh. Have fun!
7) Play Kids’ Games – nothing allow you to play like a child than playing with your children or grandchildren. And nothing is more liberating than laughing with children!
8) Learn with friends – experience learning a new language or go to dance class with other people or couples. Laughing will open you up to a better learning experience.
9) Host a Party (maybe with a Fun Theme (item 3) – a casual informal gathering (BYOB, BBQ, Campfire or Dinner Party) will always give people an opportunity to meet and share. Invite fun people and you will create a fun and memorable event.
10) Do something you have never done before – with other people or friends, step out and do something new (community fair, site seeing, small airplane ride, hot air balloon, casino, a day at the track, snowmobiling, skiing). With a group you have both the benefit of increased support and protection. Have fun!