If you have ever heard a great joke, read a funny story, or seen a great comedy, you know the joy that laughter brings. Just recalling that memory might make you laugh again or feel a big smile spreading across your face. It makes you feel good, even great! The weight of the day seems to lighten as the memory warms your heart.
That’s what laughter does for both you and your loved ones! When they laugh WITH you, it makes them feel good. The shared experience draws them closer to you and strengthens the relationship. Moreover, when they’re struggling, laughter has a way of restoring hope. Hope is a much needed (but seldom seen) commodity in all too many homes today. Laughter is one of the ways to ignite or restore hope in your family.
Laughter can also help you manage stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are some of the short-term, long-term, and relational benefits of laughter.
Short-term benefits of laughter:
A good laugh has significant short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally; it induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
- Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, which results in a pleasant, relaxed feeling.
- Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Long-term benefits of laughter:
Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also useful for you over the long term. Laughter may:
- Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts can release chemical signals in the brain that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with stressful situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
Relational benefits of laughter:
Being able to laugh with your family lets them know that you are approachable. When they see you laughing at your silly mistakes, it makes you more transparent to your loved ones. That enables your loved ones to draw closer to you because they understand that it’s ok to make mistakes in your house. Laughter brings comfort in times of trouble, draws families closer together, and builds memories that last a lifetime.
Who knew that laughter could be so beneficial?
Not long ago, while riding in the car, I heard something on the radio that made me burst out laughing. While laughing, I turned toward the closed window, which reflected the echo of my laugh back to me. In the echo, I heard my father’s laugh. At first, it startled me, and then it caused me to smile. I guess the saying is true, “What goes around, come around.”
Intentionally cultivate laughter. Look at photos, greeting cards, or comic strips. Hang them in your home or office. Choose movies and media that make you and your family laugh. Ask your friends to share any good jokes appropriate for your family. Share a silly joke or riddle with family and friends in a text message. You never know how much you’re going to brighten someone’s day with a good laugh. If you family really likes you silly joke or riddle, share it on your Facebook page.
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FYI: I also provide one-on-one coaching, if you would like to improve your relationships, or you want someone to talk to, e-mail me at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, and we’ll schedule a time to connect. My hope for you is that through these blogs, references, and resources, God will transform you from being bruised or broken to an abundantly blessed man.