Laugh! It’s Good for You!

Laughter is good for us — mentally, physically and spiritually. And best of all, it’s freely available to all of us, all the time. We just need to learn how to tap into this natural wonder drug.

Article by: Samantha Howick, Founder and director of One Yoga Academy, Lebanon

Need a change of attitude? Some peace of mind? Laugh.

Laughter is proven to increase our happiness by triggering the release of endorphins in our bodies. It reduces pain and helps to dissolve stress. It can be a wonderful antidote to conflict, as it reduces anger and makes us more forgiving. It works dependably to bring our bodies back to their innate homeostasis. After a good laugh, we will be more focused and alert.

The best medicine

Laughter also has a profound effect on our health. It strengthens the immune system, increasing the body’s natural ability to heal itself and resist disease. It causes increased oxygen intake and blood flow, boosting energy and lowering blood pressure. After a good laugh, your whole body relaxes.

Laughter offers important spiritual benefits as well. It makes us take ourselves less seriously and changes our perspective. In yoga, this change is considered an important development of awareness. It evokes a shift in our vantage point towards life.

When you are seeing the world from the limited origin of your two eyes, where the center is you, most things seem quite serious. When your vantage point shifts and you see yourself as a witness to what is happening, humor and its benefits can unfold naturally within you. You see yourself as part of something much larger than the individual self or ego. You understand that this sense of being the center of the universe is an illusion.

It can be humorous when we catch ourselves falling into prolonged stressful seriousness. Situations come and go; people come and go. Imagining we can hold on forever is going to be a source of sadness.

The seriousness we place on our possessions, our qualities, our ideas and our points of view gives us an underlying sense of stress — stress to hold on. We fear loss because we have attachments to things that cannot last forever. If we let go slightly, laugh at our seriousness, there is a lightness that develops in the whole mind and body. Room to breathe blossoms.

“When your vantage point shifts and you see yourself as a witness to what is happening, humor and its benefits can unfold naturally within you.”

Laughing on command

We should laugh more often. The good news is — we can.

The wonderful thing about humor is that it is not bound by outside circumstances beyond our control. It’s right here, available anytime and at no cost.

Most often, happiness and joy arise when life is going according to our plans. But humor can be called upon even at times when we are not actually happy. Humor is a tool we can use for our own well-being. And it is so  contagious, so it can be easily offered to others.

We can incorporate laughter in yoga class, sometimes called “Laughter Yoga.” We place a timer for three minutes and simply laugh. It can be done seated or standing up.

We can always laugh and see the humor in life. It is a choice. The way you feel is always a choice. Humor can be a powerful tool to reset, giving us a moment to realign ourselves with the person we really want to be.

Your laughter helps others

When you laugh, you make those around you feel safe. They see you are not being broken by every wind, that you are able to handle life with grace and strength.

You will serve as a role model for your children to know life is not to be taken too seriously. Yes, try your hardest and, if it works out, great! If not, try again or change course. Meanwhile, enjoy the ride!

Not only does humor help you to align to your truth, it also lightens your burdens, makes you feel a sense of connectedness to others and to life. You will be able to live better and love deeper.

Make the shift. Have fun!

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