The power of laughter
February 13, 2012
by Jenni Sebora

“My belief is that we are going to eventually discover that the most dramatic health benefits of humor are not in laughter, but in the cognitive and emotional management that humorous experiences provide. The experience of humor relieves emotional distress and assists in changing negative thinking patterns,” said Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D.

I have this quote hanging by my desk at work. Humor creates laughter, and there are most certainly benefits to humor and laughter. In fact, many workplaces are using some humor to create a more positive work environment and improve the work climate.

A little humor can have big pay-offs. Whether it is posting a joke of the day or having theme days or “secret Santa’s” at the holidays, these tools can rejuvenate people.

Laughter and humor also help socially. People who laugh a lot may have stronger connections with people.

Laughter also helps us with communication. It can lighten the mood creating a more relaxed environment that can enhance communication and socializing.

For me, laughter and humor do all of those things. Laughter helps me alleviate stress and improve my overall sense of well-being. I enjoy using humor in my classroom. It helps me connect with my students and also helps create an atmosphere that is comfortable and enhances the students’ sense of well-being and security. When students feel safe and secure in their environment, it increases their communication, and enhances their work habits. This is true for everyone.

Medical journals report that laughing increases heart rate, lowers blood pressure, increases oxygen levels in blood, improves blood circulation, and increases release of endorphins, which are body’s natural pain killers. There have been various studies that have shown that laughter does decrease pain.

The action of laughter actually is like exercising. I have heard laughing is like inner jogging. In an article on healthscience.net on the benefits of laughing, it was noted that laughing 100 times produces the same effects as riding an exercise bike for 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, most adults only laugh about 17 times a day, so I don’t think one can rely on laughing for their only source of exercise. But, laughing can only help. I have also read that 10 minutes of rowing reaches the same level of heart rate as one minute of laughing.

There certainly is a time and place for humor. We have to be able to know when we should use it and consider the content of the humor, as well to make sure it is appropriate in situations.

I know for me, humor and laughter are vital in my life. It lightens the mood, helps create a more relaxing atmosphere, helps me connect with people, and certainly helps me to live in a positive manner, with a cheerful, positive disposition. It doesn’t mean I don’t take things seriously when they need to be, but it enhances my overall well-being. And who doesn’t want that?

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