“If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.” ~Proverb
Last night a few of my friends and I went to see Chelsea Handler perform stand-up comedy. Whether you’re a fan of her show on E! or not, most would have found her pretty hilarious. I laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more. And you know what? It felt pretty awesome.
Every time I go to a comedy show, probably once or twice a year, I ask myself “Why don’t I do that more often?”
I always have a great time and leave feeling so relaxed and refreshed. I don’t know if it’s the best medicine—depends on what ails you!—but laughter is pretty great. It medicates whatever pain or emotional distress you’re feeling and makes everything seem a little bit better.
Weird but True
As I was reading up about laughter on Wikipedia, I found some interesting and obscure facts. Apparently, in 1962 there was an incident called the Tanganyika laughter epidemic—an outbreak of mass hysteria near the village of Kashasha on western coast of Lake Victoria in Tanzania.
It is rumored that the incident started because someone told a joke in a boarding school that got students laughing. That laughter perpetuated itself, and thousands of people were laughing for months. Months. Crazy, huh? Just shows you how contagious laughter can be!
The Benefits of Laughter
This morning I decided to do a little Googling to determine the real benefits of laughter—beyond my highly scientific analysis: “It feels good.” Here’s what I found:
- Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones in our bodies.
- Laughter provides both a physical and emotional release.
- Laughter can be a good workout for your abs, diaphragm, and shoulders.
- Laughter leaves you feeling more relaxed.
- Laughter brings the focus away from negative emotions.
- Laughter can give us a more positive outlook on a situation.
- Laughter connects us with others.
Laugh It Off
It’s not always easy to just “laugh it off” when you’re going through a difficult time or something tragic happens. But it really does make you feel better. Even if just a little. Next time you’re feeling down—or, hell, even when you’re not feeling down—try out some of these tips to get your laugh on.
- Turn on a funny movie or TV show.
- Look in the mirror and make silly faces (yes, this works).
- Spend a night (or two) at your local comedy club.
- Flip the channel to Comedy Central.
- Take a look at the comics in the newspaper. It’s funnier than the news.
- Peruse the internet for funny websites like FunnyOrDie or someecards.
- Ask yourself, “How is this situation funny?” when you’re upset.
- Hang out with funny friends. You know who they are.
- Read a funny book. (I would highly recommend Handler’s 2 bestsellers).
- Fake it. Apparently fake laughter has the same benefits.
- Check out some funny quotes from TV shows and movies here.
About Dani DiPirro
Dani DiPirro, founder of PositivelyPresent.com, is the author of Stay Positive, The Positively Present Guide to Life, the Effortless Inspiration series, and a variety of e-books. She is also the founder of Twenty3, a design studio focused on promoting positive, modern graphic design and illustration. Check out her new books on Gratitude and Living in the Moment!