Posted by: JennyRain | March 4, 2010

The Magic of Laughter

Humor is a beautiful thing.

I love to laugh. I always have. And my favorite thing is to laugh with someone because their raucous giggling seems to set off in me an inability to contain my own natural bent to want to laugh along.

I believe we need to laugh at least once every day.

Whether we are at work, at home, at church, on the treadmill, reading a book, or watching tv, laughter is great medicine.

Humor is also a biological necessity for me.

Yesterday was filled with laughter.

It started with Mark Batterson’s post on the spiritual necessity of laughter in churches. Batterson reminded me of how important it was to laugh, so I paid attention all day to laugh-opportunities.

I sought them out.

I started with one of my favorite blogger friends Alece’s blog where I landed on her “Monday Morning Confessional.” The list of 220 (and counting!) true confessions ranged from “I don’t wash my hands when I go to the bathroom” to “I pick my kids noses” and about half-way down the list I lost my ability to see because I was laughing so hard I was crying.

Yesterday also was filled with office-laughter over my blog “Which Muppet Character are you?” as we daintily progressed through our staff list and questioned which wondered aloud over assigned muppet characters to our staff-mates.

Probably the height of funny from my day, however, was my friend @annielaurie iPhone-purse-calling @fosterkid unknowingly car-singing and then rapping every word of 2Unlimited’s “Y’all ready for this!” (My stomach still hurts from laughing so hard!) That was definitely the highlight of 2010 thus far.

I laughed with my women’s small group, I laughed with my mentor, I giggled uncontrollably with my husband over a comment on Law and Order, and at the end of the day, I was gloriously spent from laughing.

Did you know that “children laugh 400 times a day up to 4 years old, while adults laugh 15 times a day. Laughing is an underestimated psychological tool in the classroom environment reducing workplace stress…We laugh more frequently than we eat, sing or have sex.” (1)

I believe in laughter-filled days as good medicine.

If you have not laughed today, maybe this will be a good start for you…

 Where does funny come from?

Humor researchers, after decades of study – and some ridicule from their colleagues -have zeroed in on the brain’s laughter circuit at last…

To summarize the results of many studies, the expression of laughter seems to depend on two partially independent neuronal pathways. The first of these, an ‘involuntary’ or ‘emotionally driven’ system, involves the amygdala, thalamic/hypo- and subthalamic areas and the dorsal/tegmental brainstem. The second, ‘voluntary’ system originates in the premotor/frontal opercular areas and leads through the motor cortex and pyramidal tract to the ventral brainstem. These systems and the laughter response appear to be coordinated by a laughter-coordinating centre in the dorsal upper pons…For the perception of humour (and depending on the type of humour involved, its mode of transmission, etc.) the right frontal cortex, the medial ventral prefrontal cortex, the right and left posterior (middle and inferior) temporal regions and possibly the cerebellum seem to be involved to varying degrees. (2)

In his 1872 treatise, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Charles Darwin pointed out that “very many kinds of monkeys, when pleased, utter a reiterated sound, clearly analogous to our laughter.”

(see even monkeys see the benefit of laughter!)

Regardless of the type of joke, the subjects’ medial ventral prefrontal cortex always lit up. “If you find the joke funny, the medial ventral prefrontal cortex will activate; if you don’t find it funny, it will not activate,” Goel says. And the funnier the joke, the greater the activity. (3)

I believe in laughter… it has many benefits!

 1. Laughter dissolves tension, stress, anxiety, irritation, anger, grief, and depression. Like crying, laughter lowers inhibitions, allowing the release of pent-up emotions. After a hearty bout of laughter, you will experience a sense of well-being. Simply put, he who laughs, lasts. After all, if you can laugh at it, you can live with it. Remember, a person without a sense of humor is like a car without shock absorbers.

 2. Medical researches have found that laughter boosts the immune system. The study of how behavior and the brain affect the immune system is called psychoneuroimmunology. Though still in its infancy, this science is rapidly gaining much attention as mankind strives to understand the mind-body relationship.

3. Laughter reduces pain by releasing endorphins that are more potent than equivalent amounts of morphine.

4. Humor helps integrate both hemispheres of our brain, for the left hemisphere is used to decipher the verbal content of a joke while the right hemisphere interprets whether it is funny or not. (4)

 

So join me in laughing today! Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you!

 

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Responses

  1. i loved that you could share in the laughter with me yesterday jenny! it wouldn’t nearly been as funny if i had to recap it to you!

  2. Tee hee! I’m going to be laughing about that for awhile – thanks for sharing the love!! 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed your post! I love the concept of searching out laughter throughout the day and appreciating those moments. That video of the baby laughing was priceless!!

    -JB Kal
    http://www.loveatfirstlaugh.com

  4. First time here… just came over from that track back to Alece’s laughter filled post… I still can’t believe we DID that…. LOLOL

    Anyway, GREAT article… thanks for encouraging me to SEEK OUT laughter…. I think I’m a pretty funny guy, and I love to make others laugh, but I never really thought about seeking out laughter before….

    Love it!


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