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Medicinal Laughter

Medicinal Laughter

By James Galbraith on November 20, 2018



Laughter. Is. Important.

I love to laugh. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’M HILARIOUS. OK, kinda kidding, but I WILL go out of my way (sometimes to crazy lengths) to lighten up any situation.  That started me thinking about the power of laughter, not just to ourselves, but to those around us. Strap in.

First, a crazy stat. “An adult, on average laughs around 15 times a day. Compare this a child, who on average, laughs around 300 times per day.” Now some will say this is extreme at best, but however you look at it, kids do seem to enjoy life more than most adults I know. Of course, as adults, we all have to endure the stresses of family, church, peers, finances, etc. and those can weigh us down. But I believe we all want to laugh more. I haven’t met one person in life that hates laughing.

So, here are 6 facts about laughter you may not know and may help you live a long laugh-filled life:

1. You’re More Likely to Laugh Around Others – Not Because of Jokes

If you're laughing, you're far more likely to be surrounded by others, according to research by laughter expert Dr. Robert Provine. The critical laughter trigger for most people is another person, not a joke or funny movie. Selah.

After observing 1,200 people laughing in their natural environments, Dr. Provine and his team found that laughter followed jokes only about 10-20 percent of the time. Social laughter occurs 30 times more frequently than solitary laughter.

In most cases, the laughter followed a banal comment or only slightly humorous one, which signals that the person is more important than the material in triggering laughter.

2. Laughter Is Contagious

The saying "laugh and the whole world laughs with you" is more than just an expression: laughter really is contagious. The sound of laughter triggers regions in the premotor cortical region of your brain (I looked that up), which is involved in moving your facial muscles to correspond with sound and prepare to join in.

3. Laughing Burns Calories

The International Journal of Obesity found that laughter increases both heart rate and calorie expenditure by up to 20%. In real terms, this means that laughing just 15 minutes per day could help you burn anywhere between 10 and 40 calories, depending on the intensity of your laugh. And this equals up to 1 to 4 lbs of weight-loss per year. Helllllo new year

4. Laughing Is Good for Your Relationships

Research shows that people who use laughter and smile when discussing a touchy subject feel better in the immediacy and report higher levels of satisfaction in their relationships. They also tend to stay together longer.

5. Laughter Is Attractive

The ability to make someone laugh often correlates with their intelligence; ie. the funnier someone is, the more intelligent they’re likely to be. And this has been used as a premise as to why we find funny people more attractive.

6. Laughter Improves Your Emotional Health

When you laugh, your brain releases a cocktail of chemicals that make you feel good. Dopamine allows you to feel pleasure and process emotional responses. Serotonin puts you in a good mood. Meanwhile, endorphins regulate pain and stress while making you feel generally good. And together, these hormones alongside other physical responses from laughter are effective in reducing stress and anxiety.

This is all SUPER INTERESTING. In summary, sometimes you have to get around the right people to be healthy! If you tend to isolate yourself, and are feeling down in the dumps, then get around people! Preferably happy people and see how laughter can affect your everyday life. Even help you lose some of those Thanksgiving pounds...amiright??

I’ll end this with some of what the bible says about laughter. Hopefully you’ll have a more joyous holiday season knowing that God himself is all about joy and laughter. Now, go out, and have some gosh darn good belly laughing fun!

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them."   Psalm 126:2 (NIV)

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.   Psalm 118:24 (ESV)

But look, God will not reject a person of integrity, nor will he lend a hand to the wicked. He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.  Job 8: 20-21 (NLT)

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.   Proverbs 31:25  (NLT)

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance  Ecclesiastes 3:4 (ESV)

God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.   Luke 6:21 (NLT)

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James Galbraith

James Galbraith

James Galbraith hails from waaaay south. New Zealand to be precise (but don’t hold that against him). He is the guitarist/vocalist for the band Here Be Lions and has been leading worship for over 15 years all around the world. He is passionate about music, people and resourcing the local church.