I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression that laughter is the best medicine, but there are some other awesome things to know about laughter. After reading this you’ll be convinced you need to laugh a lot and often. Share these things to know about laughter with your friends and loved ones and get the whole world laughing more.
Although it sounds logical, one of the most important things to know about laughter is that it isn’t all about the joke. Laughter is a powerful human emotion and it is an expression that is used as a channel of communication. We laugh most when we talk to our friends, not when we’re watching a comedy sketch or film. We use laughter to show people we like and understand them and share common experiences.
Brain scans have shown that laughter is catching. Although a brain scan is far from funny, if there is laughter, the scan shows the brain responds by preparing the facial muscles for the physical reaction of laughter. And importantly, the more contagious you are to laughter, the better you are at distinguishing between real and forced laughter.
Professor Sophie Scott, a British psychologist, has conducted studies into our ability to distinguish between real and forced laughter. There is actually a different physical response to each. When your brain detects staged/forced laughter there is increased activity in the part of the brain that is known to be involved in understanding other people’s emotions. Our brain is attempting to analyze the reason for the laughter, even if we are not conscious it is doing so.
Laughter is an emotion that helps us connect with someone and if we are emotionally close to them, it can make us feel better. Laughter is critical when times are tough and can immediately lift a bad mood. Professor Robert Levenson, a Berkeley psychologist, found that couples who laughed and smiled while they were discussing what annoyed them about each other had higher levels of relationship satisfaction, and longer relationship than those who didn’t laugh during the discussions. The next time you and your partner are on a downer, get laughing together.
Although there are great benefits to laughter, don’t believe stuff on the internet that says laughing more will help you to be fitter. It will certainly make you healthier and happier but it is not a form of exercise. To burn off a packet of potato chips you’d have to laugh non-stop for three hours. Instead, know that you’re doing your body good by increasing your heart rate and stimulating your brain when you laugh.
Do you find laughter attractive? Many people do and proof of this is that GSOH (good sense of humor) is the most common attribute expressed as being sought in personal ads and online dating profiles. It comes before education, profession and intelligence as being desirable in a mate.
Comedians don’t have a magic power that helps then tickle your funny bone just with the power of their jokes. The best comedians are masters of timing. They want their audience to laugh at the end of the sentence or joke, not part way through, as then the punchline might get lost, leaving the ending to fall flat. The good comic will know how to leave a pause for the laughter and know when to continue. As a listener, it’s hard for you to get the timing right because genuine (unforced) laughter is not a controlled response.
Were you surprised by any of these interesting things to know about laughter? Do you laugh enough?
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