Don’t you like to have a good laugh, a real deep in the gut, makes your face and sides hurt kinda laugh. The type when you have extreme bouts and are of a certain disposition you can have a “wee” accident sort of laugh?
“Laughter is a physical reaction in humans and some other species of primate, consisting typically of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. It is a response to certain external or internal stimuli.” Wikipedia
It has been pointed out to us several times, that as a family we have a tendency to use laughter as a coping technique. When times are dark the laughter is often prompted by triggers others would deem inappropriate.
Somehow, often it is something small and quite insignificant that can start you off, then it just escalates and gathers pace, becoming infectious to those around you and before you know it you are all laughing raucously together and have quite forgotten what it was that got you started off in the first place.
Our family use laughter to help each other, we are more than ready to behave in a ridiculous fashion both at home and in public if it helps relieve anxiety and tension. I cannot count the number of times I have been distressed and tearful and been brought round to a more positive and happier frame of mind by my family making me laugh. We laugh at ourselves and with each other, often precipitated by juvenile or trivial remarks or actions. My lovely family have told me they perceive me as funny peculiar not funny ha ha! That is to say that I am amusing to them when I am not intending to be and am usually blissfully unaware of my faux pas until they are pointed out to me.
Believe it or not there is such a thing as laughter therapy! John Hipkiss founded laughter therapy in 2009, he says; “What could be better than bringing people together laughing! I’ve seen it break down barriers, instantly make people feel great and connected with each other! Laughter Therapy can be powerful and inspirational!”
On the Laughter Therapy website it says laughter therapy and laughter yoga can do the following;
Laughter releases endorphins making us feel great.
Acts as exercise and burns calories
Unleashes inhibitions, breaks down barriers
Great team building tool encourages better communication
Helps boost our immune system which helps us resist disease
Tones muscles, improves respiration and circulation
Encourages positive thinking and creativity
Relaxes the whole body by reducing stress and tension
One of my therapists (I forget which one, I have had a few) during a session discussing my stress levels in particular advised me to seek out laughter. To read comics or watch comedies, films or series to tickle my funny bone. To look at the world with different eyes and see the fun and laughter outside, being mindful not to laugh at others in any hurtful or inappropriate way. In my local city there is a man who is known for walking backwards, all the time! He always gives direct eye contact and smiles at me whenever I see him and seems to be happy in his own special way. I have no idea what his story is, he is constantly writing things down on paper as he walks backwards (and manages to never bump into anything ~ it’s really quite amazing). Another well known character is a gentleman who is frequently heard before he is seen, riding around the local park in his mobility scooter with a very loud sound system playing various styles of current music. Sometimes it’s rap other times pop, but always extremely loud. He always looks happy too ~ although wonder about the state of his ear drums!
Another tip I was given was that whenever I felt overwhelmed by stress to try and look at it from the outside in and see if I could find any humour in the situation, to practice laughing at myself to relieve the tension and stress, to learn to give myself a break. Laughter can release endorphins and also improve oxygen intake and circulation which in turn can relieve stress.
I found this fasinating article ~ 10 surprising facts about laughter…
- Rats laugh when they are tickled ~ you can’t hear it as it’s on a higher frequency, sort of similar to that of those silent dog whistles, well silent to us but not to the dogs.
- You are more likely to laugh around others ~ other people are often the trigger to your laughter. I can vouch for this one, my girls often start laughing over something very trivial, their laughter makes me laugh and we end up giggling and laughing for ages.
- Your brain can detect fake laughter ~ I DID NOT KNOW THIS! I quote “When you hear staged, or deliberate, laughter, it prompts more activity in your brain’s anterior medial prefrontal cortex, which helps you understand other people’s emotions.”
- Laughter Is Contagious ~ I concur, they follow this with..“The sound of laughter triggers regions in the premotor cortical region of your brain, which is involved in moving your facial muscles to correspond with sound and prepare to join in.“
- Jokes Are Funnier if You Know the Comedian ~ apparently this is to do with familiarity, those you are most familiar with seem funnier when they tell the same joke as opposed to someone you don’t know. I’m not sure I agree with this one to be honest, sometimes comedians I’ve seen for the first time have me guffawing and chuckling away just as much as ones I am familiar with.
- Laughing burns calories ~ If that’s true then surely I should be a stick! Ahh, just read the explanation which is “Laughing raises both your energy expenditure and heart rate by about 10 percent to 20 percent. This means you could burn about 10-40 calories by laughing for 10 to 15 minutes. While this sounds good in theory, you’d have to laugh solidly for an hour or more for this calorie burning to have any meaningful effect.” So not one to put down as being exercise really in my book, but I wish it was and that chocolate was a diet food. A girl can dream can’t she?
- Laughter is good for your relationships ~ this is good to know, perhaps why we use laughter as a coping technique as a family. I have to say it does work.
- Laughter requires timing ~ I found this interesting…“The occurrence of speaker laughter at the end of phrases suggests that a neurologically based process governs the placement of laughter in speech. Different brain regions are involved in the expression of cognitively oriented speech and the more emotion-laden vocalization of laughter.”
- Laughter is attractive ~ I know when I meet people I do find a sense of humour is a plus, I am a sucker for sarcasm and humorous banter to relieve tension socially. I don’t think I could gel with someone who didn’t have a sense of humour or whose sense of humour was too far removed from mine.
- Some things can make virtually everyone laugh ~ Allegedly showing a clip of people trying not to laugh in inappropriate situations is a guarantee to make virtually everyone laugh as a response whilst viewing it. Who knew eh?
The Readers Digest came up with these 9 weird facts about laughter which I shall share with you..
- Humans laughed before they spoke ~ The mechanism of laughter is so ingrained in our brains that babies as young as 17 days old have been observed doing it. In fact, children born blind and deaf still have the ability to laugh.
- Laughter is actually rarely tied to humour ~ laughter can be seen as a bonding function between individuals in a group and is rarely in response to a joke.
- Rats and Monkeys laugh ~ well we covered the rats earlier, but monkeys..“Penny Paterson, president of the Gorilla Foundation says that Koko, the gorilla famous for her sign language abilities, even had a special “ho, ho,” for visitors she liked.”
- Couples who laugh together, stay together ~ well that’s a huge relief! “The couples who tackled the stressful situation with laughter not only felt better in the moment, but had higher levels of relationship satisfaction and stayed together longer than couples who didn’t crack a smile.”
- Laughter controls our brains ~ I suppose we all knew the brain was involved in this somehow, seeing as it’s our control hub of our bodies so to speak. This was interesting though “research from the lab of Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at University College London. When she monitored subjects’ brains while she played laughing sounds, she found that the premotor cortical region of the brain, which prepares the muscles in the face to move, was activated.”
- Laughing burns more calories than you think ~ erm we already established earlier that to be perfectly honest, in the grand scheme of things it just doesn’t burn enough to be bothering with ~ now if laughing could burn as much as a half hour jog then I’d be impressed but 10 to 15 minutes of solid laughing to just burn 40 calories, nope, doesn’t cut the mustard.
- Nashville is a really funny place ~ Now I have to disagree on this, I have spent a week in Nashville in 2008 and my recollection was of a great place to wander from bar to bar and take in all the live bands but not one I remember as being a hub of laughter. The toilets were ropy ~ many missing the essentials such as loo seats and doors locks, the doors being further away than my outstretched leg led to some hurried widdles watching the door and hoping no~one would barge in on me. Which they did, unfortunately, on many occasions! This fact however substantiates itself with the following “At 8:04 p.m. on April 15, 2015, a crew of comedians put Nashville in the record books. Funny folks including Hannibal Buress, Rory Shovel, and Ahmed Ahmed riffed on stage to help set a new record for the longest continuous stand-up comedy show by multiple comedians: 208 hours, 16 minutes.” Sounds impressive but I don’t know any of these comics, but fair play to ’em for the record.
- Laughter really is the best medicine ~ well, this as may be, but I am pretty sure it would be far better not to need the medicine in the first place. This fact goes on to allege that laughter in the elderly improved their memory (what about the memory of us poor folks in our forties ~ I could use the help?) Then apparently “hilarious movies” ~ said movies were not stipulated, allegedly increase blood flow and improved blood vessel function in thirty-somethings. AGAIN ~ what about us 40 somethings huh? It also seems it helps regulate blood sugar levels, helps sleep and improves immunity. OKAY ~ so I laugh A LOT and my immune system is shot to pieces, but it’s good to know it can be beneficial to others ~ OR perhaps it has helped me and I would be in a much worse place if I DIDN’T laugh ~ food for thought.
- Your sense of humour might be genetic ~ my poor children, I apologise!
What makes you laugh? For me it’s all the silly things, my girls doing impressions, having our own little catchphrases and in~jokes which can spark of laughter at any given moment. Watching the dogs tear around and drag their bottoms and general doggy stuff. The everyday stuff, the unexpected startling stuff. The brain fog moments which cause amusement to others and resulting in a good giggle. I’m not one for comedy shows or films as a rule, but I do find some authors and comics funny, on the author front it has to be Terry Pratchett, I thank him so much for the laughs, which I continue to enjoy again and again through his Discworld books. On the comic front it has to be Stewart Francis, who I have seen live, always gets me chuckling, I love his one liner delivery style, you can see some of his jokes on youtube by clicking on this link; https://youtu.be/qWH5XubGKLA
NOTE: Tickling does not make me laugh, it makes me sore and pee myself, not a good combination. So be warned you ticklers out there ~ if you approach me with tickling fingers extended be prepared to be batted away ferociously!
So, however shit your day is I hope somehow you can find some laughter to lift your spirits and try a laugh a day to keep those frown lines away, it’s much better to have crinkles at the corners of your eyes than deep frown lines any day. It is much more pleasurable to laugh than cry, but if like me and a damn good cry is needed then try to finish it off with a delightful, snotty nosed, blotchy faced guffaw at yourself afterwards. Much love to you all, and hoping today is being good to you.