Laughter not only feels fantastic, it can make your life a happier and more successful experience in ways that might surprise you. Here are seven of those ways.
1. Laughter... Helps You Lose Weight
Researchers at Vanderbilt University and other learned institutions have estimated that 15 minutes of solid laughing can burn between 10 and 40 kilojoules. Do the math, people. This means you could consume an entire packet of Tim Tams and just laugh off the calories -- if you're prepared to laugh continuously for a couple of days.
Seriously folks, studies show you can burn more than two kilos of fat over a year through the physical exercise of laughing. However, I have found that the most effective way for people to use laughter as a weight-loss technique is to substitute the pleasure of laughter for the negative pleasure of overeating foods that do not serve our health.
So next time you are tempted to consume those unwanted calories, fill your belly with laughter instead.
2. Laughter... Makes You Sexier
In a comprehensive survey published in the academic tome American Journal of Play men ranked "good sense of humour" as the most attractive quality in a romantic partner. Similar qualities such as "being fun-loving" and "having a playful nature" were also in the top five most desirable qualities, way ahead of physical attractiveness in ninth position.
For women, the results were almost identical. If you are a man who can project a good sense of humour and a playful, fun-loving nature, you have three of the top four qualities women desire in a partner.
A happening laugh life can definitely improve your love life.
3. Laughter... Builds You A Better Brain
An experiment at Northwestern University found that having volunteers watch a comedy video, in this case of Robin Williams performing, enabled them to solve a word-association puzzle more quickly and effectively. These subjects displayed more intellectual insight when asked to find a word that connected three seemingly unrelated words compared to other volunteers who watched a scary movie ('The Shining') or a documentary on quantum physics before they attempted the puzzle.
You will be pleased to know that humour and laughter activates your brain's anterior cingulate cortex which is the area we need up and running for creative problem solving and that lets us come up with innovative ideas.
Remember when you need to fire up your creativity, fire up your funny first.
4. Laughter... Gives You A Good Night's Sleep
A group of Japanese researchers have concluded that a good laugh in the evening can help you get a good night's sleep.
In a study of 48 nursing mothers, half the group watched Charlie Chaplin's movie Modern Times (one of the best comedies ever made, in my humble opinion). The other half of the group went beyond the call of duty in the name of science and watched 87 minutes (a time equivalent to the length of the Chaplin movie) of weather reports.
Not surprisingly, the weather video produced few laughs but the ladies who watched the Chaplin comedy movie yukked it up. When samples of breast milk were analysed over the next eight hours, it was found that those women who had spent their time laughing had higher levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, in their samples.
So if insomnia strikes, you might find that laughter can help you sleep, well, like a baby.
5. Laughter... Could Keep You Healthy
Okay, a brief questionnaire before we go on:
Answer True or False
1) I often wonder what hidden reasons another person may have for doing something nice for me. True or False?
2) I am likely not to talk to people until they speak to me. True or False?
Choose an Option as your Answer
3) If you arrived at a party and found that someone else was wearing a piece of clothing identical to yours, would you (a) not find it particularly amusing (b) be amused but not show it outwardly (c) smile (d) laugh or (e) laugh heartily.
4) If you were eating in a restaurant with some friends and the waiter accidentally spilled a drink on you, would you (a) not find it particularly amusing (b) be amused but not show it outwardly (c) smile (d) laugh or (e) laugh heartily.
Those who answered false and chose options (c), (d) or (e) have some good news coming and those that did not may want to consider adjusting their attitudes. The above was part of a questionnaire used in a study by the University of Maryland Medical Center. It found that people with heart disease are 40 percent less likely to laugh in a range of different situations than people of the same age without heart disease.
Just another reason to have a hearty laugh as often as possible.
6. Laughter... Helps You Make More Money
In case you weren't casually sitting on the couch last night reading researcher Fabio Sala's report 'Relationship between Executive's Spontaneous Use of Humor and Effective Leadership' let me fill you in on what he found out about the monetary value of laughter.
Sala analysed the ability of a group of executives to create laughter with other people. He found that the execs who had achieved outstanding financial results in their careers used humour twice as often as less successful execs. In another study of CEOs, he found the most successful used humour in their conversations three times as often as those who achieved less.
Sala explains that "a natural facility with humor intertwines with, and appears to be a marker for...high emotional intelligence". This makes you better at your job, more likely to be promoted, and wealthier.
Therefore if you want more money, bring your funny.
7. Laughter... Makes You Unforgettable
Dr. Allan Reiss, director of the Stanford Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory, recently discovered that when we laugh, the part of the brain's limbic system that regulates emotion called the nucleus accumbens becomes active. This is the reward centre of the brain that also lights up when people win a prize, receive an unexpected gift, take cocaine or see someone they find physically attractive.
That means mirth is powerful mojo and those who are masters of merriment are found by many to be most memorable.
So, as you can see, laughter lovers have some significant advantages in some really important areas. Laughter can make you slimmer, sexier, smarter, healthier, give you a great night's sleep, help you become rich and make you unforgettable (in a good way).
The good news is that the skills required to create and enjoy humour and laughter are learnable. Anyone can become more proficient at producing, communicating and utilising humour and laughter. And the best part? Learning how to bring more laughter into your life is fun.
You can get more information about laughter here www.anthonyackroyd.net