It’s common sense that laughter makes us feel better, but to discover all of its benefits, experts have been studying the power of laughter since the 1960s. There’s even an official word for this branch of science: gelotology (from the Greek “gelos,” which means “laughter”).
What have those experts discovered? They found that laughter may increase circulation, boost mental function, decrease pain and stress, and release endorphins that help people feel happier. With all of those benefits, it’s plain to see that laughter is good medicine.
Here are seven ways to laugh more:
- Watch television shows that make you laugh. Depending on your sense of humor, favorites like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Cheers, The Office, and Frasier are reliable sources for a laugh or two.
- Find a comedian you enjoy and watch them on television or online. The late-night talk shows are a great place to discover new comedic talent. You may find that the funniest comedians joke about themselves rather than making jokes at someone else’s expense. If you want to avoid negativity and off-color language, search online for “top clean comedians” to find some new folks to tickle your funny bone.
- When we’re able to safely enjoy live entertainment, consider a night of improv. Most cities have improv clubs where comedians perform stand-up routines or act out scenarios that weren’t pre-rehearsed. The laughter at a live show is spontaneous — being around other people who are ready to laugh will help you laugh out loud too.
- Look for a “laughing yoga” class near you. Laughing yoga classes combine the benefits of yoga with the benefits of laughter. It turns out that even simulated laughter — laughter you purposely create on command — has the same healthy results as spontaneous laughter. Laughing yoga is just one type of laughter therapy where trained instructors help get you laughing to reap the rewards on a regular basis. Make sure you’re medically cleared before beginning any new physical activity and follow all health and safety guidelines for your area.
- Read a funny book. Many comedians are also talented authors, and their memoirs can provide insight into their unique brand of humor — or make a point of reading the comics every day for a bite-size bit of humor.
- Check out comedy podcasts, like these two produced by National Public Radio (NPR). Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! combines real news stories with made-up tall tales and challenges the audience to guess which is which. Ask Me Another is a funny, fast-paced trivia podcast. Both are certain to make you think and laugh at the same time!
- Of course, getting together with friends usually results in lots of laughter too. Keeping those connections is good for your health. Laughing together is just one of the many benefits of friendship.
Sure, life can be stressful at times, but the simple act of laughing at a stressful situation can make it easier to cope. Laugh at yourself — we all do some silly stuff and having a good sense of humor about it is a great approach. Find something to laugh about every day — and if anyone asks what’s so funny, have a few jokes ready to help spread the joy.