Studies have found that laughter can have healing properties; and it’s contagious.
The discovery of mirror neurons—what causes you to smile when someone smiles at you—gives credence to the belief that laughter is contagious.
When you’re feeling down finding friends to laugh with can help your brain trigger its own laughter response and foster closeness, both of which contribute to your sense of well-being. Why do you think that sense of humor is such an important trait when looking for a partner? We like the feeling of shared laughter and our body wants as much of this feeling as possible.
Reduces the Stress Response
When you laugh there’s a contraction of muscles, which increases blood flow and oxygenation. This stimulates the heart and lungs and triggers the release of endorphins that help you to feel more relaxed both physically and emotionally.
According to one study done at Indiana State School of nursing, mirthful laughter may increase natural killer cell levels, a type of white blood cell that attacks cancer cells.
Resilience is the ability to see failure as natural progression to success rather than as a negative outcome. People who are resilient are happier and more successful.
The ability to acknowledge mistakes without becoming angry or frustrated plays an important role in developing resilience. Laughing at mistakes allows us to recognize that making errors is a part of being human.
Studies support laughter as a great way to get outside the downward spiral to depression. Being unhappy can become a pattern or mindset if we don’t step outside of ourselves occasionally. By being a witness to our situation rather than allowing ourselves to feel the victim we can find the humor in it and see with fresh eyes. Even forced laughter releases a cocktail of hormones, neuropeptides, and dopamine that can start to improve your mood.
People who are laughing don’t experience less pain, however they report being less bothered by the pain they do experience. It’s not about changing pain levels. The amount of pain remains the same, but your perceived pain levels reduce and your belief that you can cope increases. Laughter by itself isn’t the solution but it can help a person overcome discomfort.
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