Over the past number of weeks I have been reminded about the value of laughter – sharing a funny experience with someone, laughing at oneself or just having a private chuckle when reminiscing about a funny memory.
Laughter has been shown to increase emotional arousal and secrete chemicals which give us pleasure. Others laughing is contagious increasing our feeling of social inclusion. When we smile it can denote that ‘we get it’ and others understand us.
Smiling highlights our warmth and eagerness to communicate. It promotes us ‘open’ individuals willing to listen and communicate – others feel more comfortable when we smile unless it’s inappropriate like smiling when something terrible happens to others – don’t do that!
I was travelling to Galway to treat service users in RehabCare, had been having a challenging week and couldn’t find any music (another great source of well-being) so used Spotify to find some comedy. I ended up listening to sketches from Azis Ansari, Sarah Silverman and Robin Williams. They are all hilarious people and I laughed with tears in my eyes as Aziz described the perfect marriage proposal – with a huge cynical twist. The journey felt shorter, I less tired and unburdened but the laughter also promoted energy levels, readying me for work at the journeys end.
Sometimes getting into comedy can be like starting a book – difficult to begin with but easier after a few minutes of reading. Laughter can come from many places – having a conversation with a friend or family member or listening to music which enhances funny memories, are all really doing the same thing. Laughter Yoga is now considered a wonderful source of well-being.
Try to laugh every day and you will see how mood can shift for the better – it helped me to feel less lonely when travelling, more energised and ready to embrace my days work.
Dr Ian Gargan