Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
These words were penned by Ella Wheeler in 1883 after she had comforted a distraught young woman on a train ride to the Governor’s Inaugural Ball in Wisconsin. The poem in its entirety was published as Solitude in her book, Poems of Passion. The meaning is as fresh today as it has ever been. When we are in good moods and being positive, we find others who want to share that emotion. When, however, we stumble and have our times of sadness, we often find ourselves alone.
As we look at real life situation in the world around us, both locally and globally, it can certainly seem that this is a time the the earth has to borrow its mirth because it is mired in trouble of its own. But is it really, or is that only what we have been led to believe? How, in these trying times, can we turn from sadness to something that will serve us better? The answer lies in laughter.
Think about times in your life where even the sound of someone else’s laughter has eased you. Perhaps it was only to pull you away from your own negative thoughts or perhaps it even put a smile on your face. That is what laughter does for us. Laughter draws us together in ways that nothing else can. The more we seek our laughter and humor in our lives, the more we find both our mental and physical health improving. I reflected and researched on a variety of bits of information I had heard about laughter and its affect on our mind and body and made some amazing discoveries that I will share in this article.
Laughter decreases stress hormones while also releasing endorphins, the “feel good” hormones of the body. You get a boost in the immune system while also getting an all over relaxed feeling. It increases the function of the blood vessels allowing a better blood flow which is extremely beneficial to the heart. Laughter can also serve to diffuse anger and the problems that can be caused when we hold on to bitterness and resentment rather than releasing it. There are some studies that indicate that laughter can even decrease pain in some cases. Those are simply the physical benefits of laughter.
There are definitely some emotional and mental benefits to humor and laughter that we all experience when we allow it to infiltrate our lives. In conjunction with the physical aspects of humor and laughter we can find corresponding benefits to our mental health. As stress hormones are lowered, we notice less anxiety and tension. As our stress is relieved, we see that our moods often become much better. We regain our love of life and the ability to find joy in the everyday occurrences that we previously overlooked. As the mental and emotional part of our life improves, we often find that it carries over to the social aspects of our life. We become more attractive to others and our relationships are strengthened. We allow the humor to diffuse tensions that may previously existed and it becomes much easier to work on team projects and group bonding is more easily achieved.
Laughter just makes us feel good while we are laughing and the benefits stay with us even after the laughter is over. Humor helps us get through disappointing times in life and even a smile can go a long way to making you feel much better about circumstances your find yourself in. It often allows us to gain a perspective that we would not otherwise have that will enable us to find solutions to problems that we would not have found otherwise.
While we find many opportunities to laugh during the day, it is shared laughter than also holds a great deal of promise. When we are engaged with others socially and mentally, we find opportunities to share humor and laughter. That kind of sharing strengthens all of our relationships. When we find people who exhibit a sense of humor and freely smile and laugh, we have found treasures indeed. It is during this time that we see actual human engagement preferable to thumbing through the phone and texting to someone off location. It is through shared laughter that we keep relationships fresh and exciting. We create positive bonds that will help us during times of stress and disagreements. Humor can allow you to forget some of your troubles and look ahead with more optimism. It allows us to release fear and let go of doubts.
Laughter is a natural part of life but we sometimes need to be reminded that we can always become better at including laughter in our lives. One of the best ways to start incorporating more humor and laughter in our life is to simply begin smiling more. As you smile at others, you will notice that they begin to interact with you more and you become more approachable. Spend time with people who enjoy life, who smile and laugh a lot, and who add to your ability to smile and laugh. It will be the beginning of very special relationships. These people enjoy humor of all kinds and they find things that bring them humor, and hence pleasure. Their point of view can be contagious, indeed. Always create any opportunity you can to bring more humor into your life. Learn to laugh at yourself, learn to see the funny side of situations, and don’t go a day without laughing.
If you are not already a humor enthusiast who enjoys smiling and laughing, investigate the possibilities. It is when you are engaged with life, counting your blessings, and seeing all of the grand and glorious opportunities that we are accorded during this lifetime that you can truly appreciate the honor in the world around us. It is truth when we realize that “laughter is the best medicine.”