Friday, February 10, 2012

Just Laugh...It's Free

Here is something funny, laughter is just another one of those amazing things that can be added to the best-things-in-life-are-free list.

Laughter can be the best medicine if you are not feeling happy. Just think about it. Think about all those times when you were feeling down and you came across a picture that made you laugh, or someone told a really funny joke that made you laugh until you cried, or what about all those YouTube videos of laughing babies; all those things made you laugh until your gut hurts. Something that does that for me is the website (check it out. You will laugh too but just wait until you finish reading my post, please!)  Let's face it,you feel better after laughing. I know I do.

I wrote about the benefits of laughter here and also here and there is no doubt there are great benefits to laughter. It benefits mind, body and spirit. Research shows laughter has far reaching benefits, including strengthening the immune system, reducing food cravings, and even increasing a person's threshold for pain. Laughter can reduce levels of stress hormones.  Laughter has also shown to increase the level of health enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters.
And don't forget the physical benefits of laughter, especially when you have a hearty belly laugh. It exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed. Not bad eh? It gives you a full body work out. But don't just go by what the research says, do it and you will see.

There is a growing movement in laughter yoga. Yes, I said Laughter Yoga! Or there are also laughter clubs. Wendy Woods of Watershed Training Solutions is a laughter yoga instructor. She says laughter is just another tool that allows us to approach life a little lighter. She says laughter is intuitive. We just know how to laugh, the youngest of babies know how to do it and they do it exceptionally well too. Woods says laughter yoga teachers us to use laughter as a tool. She says it is based on the concept of laughing for no reason. "You start out faking the laughter and because it is in a group and laughter is contagious, real laughter kicks in."

Kids are great teachers when it comes to laughing. Children laugh on average 400 times a day. Compare that to an adults average 15 laughs a day. We should look to children for inspiration, they know how to let loose and really laugh, they aren't worried about looking silly, or that someone will judge them. Kids laugh because they can, they laugh because something is funny.

The beauty of laughter is that you can do it by yourself, with a group, with loved ones and even with complete strangers. It doesn't matter where you are, laughter has positive effects. It will make you feel better no matter where you are, no matter who you are with, and no matter when you do it. Can it get any better than that?  Oh ya and it is FREE.