Laughter – the Best Medicine

[Article by: Dominic Lucien Luk]

Growing up as a kid, I remember I used to love watching comedies on television. TV shows like “Mr. Bean” and “Mind Your Language” would be the highlight of the evening when the whole family will gather around simply for a good laugh. The interesting is that even now as an adult, I realize that I still enjoy having a good laugh while watching TV. I enjoy sitcoms on TV like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “FRIENDS.”

Somehow, laughing just makes me feel good. And so then I started to wonder why we love to laugh, and why having a sense of humour is so important for us to continue feeling sane. Every time I receive my latest issue of Reader’s Digest, I immediately, and sometimes subconsciously, flip to the sections with all the humour and jokes. I am sure that I am not the only one who does this.

Mark Twain once said that humour is mankind’s greatest blessing. Staying happy is crucial for us as fragile human beings. We need to smile and laugh in order to feel good. So, what actually happens when we laugh? What is so fascinating about having a sense of humour?

Science has proven that when we laugh, stress hormones reduce, and endorphins are released. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers, and can make us feel happy. When we laugh, our endothelium (the layer inside our blood vessels) expands. On the other hand, stress narrows the endothelium. Any damage to the endothelium could lead to cardiovascular diseases, as the endothelium plays a role in maintaining blood flow. Laughing, as simple as it may seem, boosts our blood flow by about 20%.

Laughing and having a sense of humour definitely has a positive effect on our body’s physiology, as well as our mind’s psychology. We feel good when we laugh, and our emotions can suddenly change for the better after a good laugh. Laughing is an aerobic workout that stretches and exercises the diaphragm, increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen. This will provide us with more energy to survive through our hectic days at work or school. Apart from being a good exercise workout, laughing is also a tool to bond with friends and family members. Sitting around the dining table laughing over dinner, or having a good laugh with friends, can feel very enlightening and make the atmosphere feel so relaxed.

So, since laughing is free and it has no negative side effects, it seems only wise that we should opt for creating a more relaxed atmosphere in our homes, work places, or at school. How? Just smile more, laugh at yourself, or simply watch a funny TV show.

“A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast.” Groucho Mark.