10 Remarkable Health Benefits of Laughing and a Sense of Humor

10 Remarkable Health Benefits of Laughing and a Sense of Humor

The first time I heard about the health benefits of laughing was at a health seminar. The story went like this:

A man heard from his doctor that further treatment of his cancer was of no use and that his life prospects were about 3 months. He had a lot of money and no heirs, so he decided to spend his last days as pleasant as possible. 

He took up residence in a penthouse of a hotel with full board and access to the Humor Channel and watched funny movies and stand up comedians all day long.

After 3 months he was still alive. And also the next 3 months passed by without anything of importance happening. So he ran out of money, was kindly asked to pay the bill or else to leave the hotel, and returned to the hospital for a check-up.

His cancer was gone.

Smile!

I must admit, I have no idea if this is a true story, but I loved it anyway. True or not, the benefits of laughing are real.

When you smile, the production of various happiness hormones in the body increases. These hormones provide a feeling of satisfaction and happiness and also have a pain-killing effect. In addition, laughter is relaxing, gives energy and makes you look at problems more positively. 

Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a real smile and a fake smile. As a result, you will also benefit from a fake smile. 

When I walk into the bathroom in the morning I smile at the mirror, but there was a time I could hardly manage to do that. A trick that helps then is to put a pencil in your mouth. The pencil pulls up the corners of your mouth! โ€œFake it until you make itโ€, is one of my slogans. ๐Ÿ™‚

So what are the health benefits of laughing?

“Hmm, my weigth doesn’t change when I am standing on one leg”
  • Increases the production of various happiness hormones, like serotonin and endorphins. These hormones provide a feeling of satisfaction and happiness;
  • A better immune system. Laughing produces extra white blood cells. White blood cells clean up viruses, making you more resistant to infections;
  • Pain-killing due to the released endorphins;
  • Better relaxation by increasing the heart rate. The blood circles around faster;
  • Diminishes the chances of a heart attack;
  • Less stress, because it inhibits the production of the stress hormone cortisol;
  • Excellent training, as you use a lot of muscles. Laughing for 10-15 minutes burns 50 cal (and probably gives you pain in your belly, LOL);
  • You are more attractive, you radiate completely with a smile on your face;
  • You will make easier contact with others;
  • It extends your lifespan.

What if you’re not a natural smiley face?

  • Don’t take yourself  and others so seriously;
  • Laugh out loud in the company of others. Laughter is contagious as you can see in the U-bahn video;
  • Smile when someone else smiles;
  • Surround yourself with people with humor;
  • Smile in the mirror in the morning, start the day right.

What are the characteristics of having a good sense of humor?

Disclaimer: this is my opinion. I have no idea if itโ€™s scientifically proven, but I expect not!

  • Conscientious. Laughing with someone is allowed. Laughing at someone is not. Most videos of America’s Funniest Home Videos fall into the last category. I donโ€™t like those;
  • Self-accepting;
  • Good physical well-being;
  • Creative;
  • Getting older is just a fact.

If you ask Tom or my grandsons then everything with poo, piss and farts is hilarious. When we were younger the biggest hit on Dutch childrenโ€™s TV was someone who always asked his audience: โ€œWho would like a poo sandwich?โ€

We all have a different sense of humor. 

Well, children laugh about 100 times a day, adults a meager 15 times. Maybe adults should also be asked more often if they want a poo sandwich. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just joking

Another personal opinion: you don’t speak another language well enough unless you can make jokes in it. Although, being Dutch doesnโ€™t guarantee my Dutch friends always understand what I mean.

My sense of humor in English is more or less OK, but in Spanish I still have a lot to learn. For the time being I have stopped making jokes in Spanish, because it gave too many confused faces. 

Health benefits of laughing

Strangely enough, psychologists used to frame humor negatively in the past, suggesting that it exhibited vulgarity, superiority, Freudian conflict of identity. In this view, one used humor to humiliate or belittle others, or to inflate one’s self-esteem.

Nowadays appreciation for humor is associated with other strengths, such as wisdom and a love for learning. Humorous activities or exercises result in heightened feelings of emotional well-being and optimism.

Older adults understand different jokes than younger adults. Often jokes are embedded in situations well-known. Those situations differ between older and younger people. Getting the joke also depends on working memory capacity and control functions.

In my younger years I often didnโ€™t understand the usual jokes. After bumping my nose a few times by pretending I got it, I quickly learned that I could better admit I didn’t. A joke is often not funny anymore when it has to be explained, but I blame the joke for that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Other benefits of humor

Humor can soften criticism. With humor, instead of angry and harsh words, the meaning of the words can be accepted without offense. It gets to the heart of what’s important in a very gentle and subtle way.

Humorously wrapped words allow things that would otherwise be too “heavy” or difficult for the conversation because they can be said more lightly. A joke can often tell a difficult truth.

What kind of jokes do you like most? Tell us in the comment box.

11 thoughts on “10 Remarkable Health Benefits of Laughing and a Sense of Humor”

  1. Wow! Who would have thought that there are so many benefits to smiling and laughing. I love a good laugh. Now that I know it increases serotonin and endorphins, I won’t have to eat so many cupcakes to get that high (LOL). I tend to smile a lot naturally. I read somewhere that being angry increases your blood pressure and carrying resentments increases high blood pressure. So it makes sense that laughing and smiling do the opposite. I’m going to share this on my FB page right now. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
    • That’s what we would call, killing 2 birds with 1 stone, Shalisha! I guess laughing is not only healthy in itself, but if it prevents you from eating cupcakes it serves a double good cause. ๐Ÿ˜€

      I am sure being angry and resentful is bad for your health. We can feel it in our bodies, can’t we? If I am mad it feels like my head will burst. Not good at all! So I am glad it doesn’t happen often.

      Thanks for the sharing. Really kind of you. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  2. Laughter is contagious, and the video you’ve shared with us (your readers) proves that.

    May I add my piece of advice? Seize every chance to laugh your a** out, even if you’re well aware that laughter doesn’t prolong our life. It may not add years to our life, but it indeed adds life to our years.

    Laughing is a therapy in itself!

    Thanks for crafting this fantastic post, Hannie, and know that your content never ceases to amaze me!

    XoXo, take care!

    Reply
    • That’s so sweet of you to say, Gorjan, thanks!!
      And I truly love your addition. I’ll have to remember that: it adds life to our years. Magnificent!
      After all, what good does it do when we live longer but are not amusing ourselves. Would be boring, wouldn’t it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  3. Haha, I love the baby chimp!

    I think, as you say, laughter is the best medicine, because as science proves, we release many beneficial hormones into our bodies when we are laughing and happy.

    It’s sad to think that as we age we tend to laugh a lot less than when we were younger. I am surprised that kids only laugh 100 times a day on average, I would have thought it was more than this.
    However, I’m not suprised to learn that adults only manage laughter 15 times a day – I have known some who probably only managed 15 times a year ๐Ÿ™

    No poo sandwiches for me thanks ๐Ÿ™‚
    Have a great day.

    Reply
    • Really? No poo sandwich? You disappoint me, Andrew, ROFLOL. Just kidding, but you know that, don’t you.

      How awful that there are people that hardly laugh. So sad for them.

      I have no idea how they count the number of times kids or adults laugh. I read it somewhere in a book which was the inspiration for this post. I keep promising myself to count it on a day, but I always forget halfway the morning. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Reply
  4. Hi Hannie,

    I must admit, when I was a kid if anybody mentioned the word piss or farts then I would laugh my head off :). I have heard about this before that laughing can give us health benefits because of the release of endorphins into our bodies. That was as far as I went with it, but after reading your article I now fully understand that we can receive so many health benefits from laughing and being put into a great mood.

    I need to share this article with my family in Liverpool because we have all just been put into full lockdown here in the UK. Most people all over the country will be depressed and need to be cheered up. If I was you I would share this article with as many people in the UK as possible. I am certainly going to share it with my family and friends.

    I will let you know what they think and if they are cheered up.

    Keep up the great work and thank you for sharing.

    All the best,

    Tom

    Reply
    • Most children do probably, Tom, so you were not the only one. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was amazing to find out that when my eldest (Spanish) grandson was 4 he would never make a remark about piss or poo, where the grandkids of my Dutch friends even told whole sentences where every verb was replaced by poo. So I thought it was only a Dutch thing to do. But then the youngest turned 4 (the eldest was 6 then) and now they both laugh their head off with telling each other dirty stories.

      Yes, I know the pandemic is taking its toll in terms of depression and anxiety. That was one of the reasons to write this article, because it is so necessary we keep our spirit high. Especially in these times. So I am trying to share this article with a lot of people, because not only the UK suffers from this but a lot of other people as well.

      Thanks for your sharing, Tom!

      Reply
  5. The video of the people in the underground laughing was funny, I ended up laughing too in the end. Laughter is truly contagious! The chimpanzee made me laugh out loud, that one was hilarious!

    I always knew that laughter was good for us, but I did not know to what extent. I found it very interesting to read about this, and I did not know that even a fake smile can fool your brain into believing that you’re actually smiling. I am going to try that one out ๐Ÿ™‚

    At the end of a busy or stressful day I often watch comedies on YouTube or Netflix. It always relaxes me and makes me feel much better. I agree that America’s Funniest Home Videos are not funny, it’s just videos of people getting horrible accidents and they do not make me laugh, but rather cringe. I do not watch that. Laughing at someone is not good, but laughing with someone, yes, definitely!

    Reply
    • That U-bahn video indeed is great, isn’t it. It cracked me up as well. The funniest thing is – in my eyes – that some people really try hard not to laugh. And in the end they still do. But I also can imagine that someone who enters later and missed the start of it all, finds it so confusing that he walks away to the other end of the cart. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Good thinking to watch some comedies when you’re tired. It does give us energy to be able to laugh! What comedies do you watch, so I can get some inspiration?

      Reply

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