According to numerous studies, laughter is extremely importance to people’s health. For example, it can boost immunity, decrease pain, prevent heart diseases, fight stress, make people more relaxed, fight fear, and improve one’s mood. Unfortunately, not all people are aware of the health benefits of laughter. Besides, there are many situations in life when people simply have no reason to laugh. However, even if smiling seems to be inappropriate, it is still crucial to do it every day. For example, a person can watch the funny series, meet friends, read an interesting book, share a joke, or engage in sports activities which will definitely make him or her smile. Laughter is beneficial both for mental and physical health, and its positive effects on the human organism can last long.
There are several positive short-term effects of laughter. For instance, it can stimulate the functioning of many organs in a human body. When a person laughs, he or she intakes more oxygen-rich air. Besides, laughter can influence greatly the human muscles, heart, and the lungs. This process also assists the brain in the production of endorphins. According to Brink, “Endorphins, pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters, activate receptors on the surface of the endothelium, the layer of flat cells lining blood vessels”. Thus, a laugh is a very rewarding act for the human heart. Gendry also highlights the positive influence of endorphins during laughter, in particular: “Endorphins create a positive state of mind and boost optimism, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth”. In 2005, Miller conducted a study in which the scientist asked twenty participants to watch a comedy and, then, a drama. After watching every movie, the scientist measured the blood flow of the participants. The sad movie made blood flow in fourteen participants restricted, whereas the comedy increased the participants’ average blood flow by twenty-two percent.
Laughter can reduce stress. It can make a person more responsive to the irritants and relieve it bad feelings. It increases a heart rate and blood pressure that make a person feel more relaxed. Besides, this process soothes tension. Stress does not only have emotional symptoms but also physical. Laughter helps to reduce these symptoms because it can stimulate circulation and even lead to the muscle relaxation.
In additions to the short-term effects of this act, there are also powerful long-term effects of laughter. It can improve the immune system of a laughing person. When he or she has negative thoughts, it does not only influence him or her emotionally, but they also bring physical changes due to the various chemical reactions they provoke. Such reactions impose a negative effect on a human body by causing more stress and decreasing the immune function. In 2003, Bennett conducted research and proved the positive effect of laughter on people’s immunity. Thirty-three women watched a funny movie during which they laughed. As a result, this activity made their immunity stronger. Moreover, positive thoughts affect a human body in a good way. In fact, they release neuropeptides to defend the organism not only from stress but also from other illnesses. Laughter can also relieve pain. It happens because this process can stimulate a human body to produce the natural painkillers. Laughter lifts a mood, and it can be very beneficial because people often experience depression as a result of certain chronic illnesses. Laughter can assist a person in lessening his or her anxiety and depression and, consequently, make him or her happier.
Scientists conducted a research in an attempt to prove that laughter can create a huge impact on the emotional state. The researchers from Loma Linda University in California tried to understand how laughter and human emotions correlate. That study involved twenty participants, and there were several conditions for them to participate in. For example, they must be healthy, and they must be from sixty to seventy years old. Scientists measured the participants’ short-term memory in the relation to their stress levels. The task of one group was to experience stress. They sat silently, and scientists did not allow them to talk, use any devices, or read. Meanwhile, they showed funny videos to another group. That experiment lasted twenty minutes. Afterward, scientists gathered saliva samples from the participants and asked them to take a memory test that did not contain many questions. Then, there was a break after which the scientists asked two groups to take another test. Participants answered the questions more accurately after the break. However, one group had the better results in the memory recall section: “Participants who viewed the funny videos had much higher improvement in recall abilities, 43.6 percent, compared with 20.3 percent in the non-humor group”. Scientists also noticed that the level of cortisol, the hormone that indicates stress, were significantly lower in the successful group.
Nowadays, the scientists have not learnt all positive qualities of laughter, but many agree that more research is required. The study of this process has not received enough attention among the scientists. Many researchers state that the studies related to the influence of laughter on a human body often contain shortcomings. According to Strean, “Taken together, the empirical studies reviewed … provide little evidence for unique positive effects of humor and laughter on health-related variables”. Besides, Bennett who is encouraged to conduct more research related to the impact of laughter on people’s immune system also emphasizes that there is a considerable shortage of funding. Moreover, the scientist complains that their collogues are reluctant to share their equipment when they learn the purpose of the research. Thus, it is possible to conclude that there is certain prejudice regarding humor research among scientists.
Unfortunately, many individuals underestimate the miraculous qualities of laughter. Undoubtedly, their skepticism can be linked to various factors, such as loneliness, bad temper, difficulties in life, prolonged depression, the loss, the absence of support, poor living conditions, or an incurable illness. These factors are inescapable misfortunes that can become a part of any life which prevent an individual from smiling. Naturally, laughter cannot solve all the problems. However, it is not a remedy that can help to overcome despair and keep moving with the hope that someday everything will change for the better. Even if a person has no desire to smile, he or she should find a way to change the mind in order to stay healthy and have the opportunity to find other solutions. For example, people can interact socially more frequently, go to a fitness center, or devote twenty minutes per day to watch a funny series. These engagements seem to be easy, but it is difficult for many people to realize how it is important to care about personal health and well-being.
Although the significance of laughter is often underestimated, the researchers should better learn the positive effects of this process. It is already proven that laughter does not only help a person to stay healthy emotionally, but it can also have a profound influence on a physical health. Laughter fights stress, pain, anxiety and boosts immunity. It even can prevent a heart disease. Finally, this process hides more magical qualities, thus, a further research is required.