No joke: laughing improves your health

by Bill Andres

Douglas Fairbanks once said, "There is one thing in this good old world that is positively sure—happiness is for all who strive to be happy—and those who laugh are happy." Laughter is a giant step towards happiness and it starts with a smile. This is something you started doing socially when you were only six to eight weeks of age. Try it right now. It should immediately make you feel a little better. Can you feel some of the tension in your shoulders going away? Now make your smile really big! Don't you feel even a little better? Take that smile with you into the rest of your day.

It's time to take your smile to the next level. Get ready to laugh. Now go for a walk. This time, you need to pick up your feet a little higher and quicken your pace. Don't forget to keep smiling. Instead of looking at the ground in front of you, lift up your head and pull your shoulders back. Start looking around you and you will notice the beauty of nature, and that there are people all around you. You might also find reason to laugh, even if you just laugh to yourself. You're also going to start feeling better.

Speaking of feeling better, did you know that laughing improves your health? We all know the effect of stress on our body. Laughter leads to reductions in stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. Laughing also boosts the number of antibody-producing cells giving us a stronger immune system. Laughter even releases endorphins that can relieve some of our physical pain. You can also fight heart desease with laughter. A study done in 2000 found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh and be able to recognize humor in a variety of situations.

Many doctors and scientists have found that laughing can be a good way to overcome disappointment, anger, or sadness. Sigmund Freud determined that laughter releases tension. Renowned therapist Friedrich Nietzsche suggested laughter to be a way to overcome loneliness and a sense of mortality. Most of us just know that laughing makes us feel better. Are you ready to take another step towards being healthier, reducing stress, and laughing away loneliness? Join a laughter club! Discoveries about the benefits of laughing have been the reason for the creation and spread of these clubs all over the world. Participants meet with others to laugh and have a good time as they get healthier and feel better. You can find a club near you by looking at

Laughter can also play a roll in the way we interact with those around us. Smiling and laughing rather than frowning will make you more attractive to others. I know I'd rather be around someone who is smiling and happy instead of sour and dull. You've heard the expression, "Smile and the world smiles with you. Cry and you cry alone." It's the truth.

Imagine that you walk into a room where sits five strangers. You notice that two of them have frowns on their faces, one of them is wearing a scowl, and the other has no expression on her face at all. But the last of the strangers has a big smile on his face. Which of these people are you most likely to engage in conversation? Only one of them has suggested, by their expression, that they even want to talk to you. It is probably the one person you would want to meet—the person with the smile on his face. So when you are in a social situation, put on a smile and laugh out loud. You'll be suprised how many more people you will meet and how much more fun you will have by the end of the night.

Laughter is also contagious! Have you ever laughed just because you heard someone next to you laughing? That's why TV producers put laughter tracks in a comedy show. The sound of laughter starts to make you laugh, even if it isn't that funny. So don't hold back your laughing when you are among other people. Your laughter may make another's day!

Enthusiasm is the last component of laughter—being enthusiastic about what you are doing, who you know and meet, and enthusiastic about life. This is what makes you laugh.

So get up in the morning and laugh because you are happy to be alive. Put that smile on your face and go for that walk. Lift your head up, swing your arms, and put jump in your step. Don't forget to smile and laugh just because you feel like it!. Then you'll feel better all over.