“As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.” — A Jewish Proverb (Pesach Sameach, y’all!)
Today is International Moment of Laughter Day which, just by virtue of its name, is already hilarious to me. This unofficial holiday was initially proposed by “humorologist,” writer, and professional speaker, Izzy Gesell, to make time for the activity that is “after breathing as just about the healthiest thing you can do.” And he’s not wrong: the physical, social, and emotional benefits of laughter are difficult to overstate.
**Author’s note: Okay, y’all. Here’s the deal. I’ve had just about entirely too much fun trying to pull this thing together. So, in an attempt to make myself feel like I actually did some research (as opposed just watching hilarious videos on YouTube – shhhh! Don’t judge me!), I’m going to talk facty-facts for a few minutes.
Laughter has a number of positive effects on the body. Your body actually takes in much more air when you are laughing, supplying extra oxygen to your muscles and vital organs. It reduces the levels of cortisol in your body, while also boosting your immune system and releasing all sorts of endorphins resulting in less stress, reduced pain, and improving your body’s defenses against disease.
Laughter, in addition to boosting physical health, also help improve psychological well-being. Those sweet, sweet, happy-making endorphins can actually improve your memory and cognition, counteract anxiety, and boost your resilience in the face of adversity.
All of those super awesome physical and psychological benefits are likely our evolutionary reward for participating in laughter as social bonding. See, laughter isn’t actually directly tied to humor. I mean, humor is great, but laughter exists without it—as anyone who is even as remotely ticklish as I am can tell you. Babies as young as seventeen days old laugh and, regardless of how many interactive Baby Einstein products they have access to, they probably haven’t developed a refined sense of humor. Some folks theorize that laughter was one of the ways in which we, as a species, communicated to and bonded with one another before we had the capacity for language. Given the extent to which humans are social animals, it makes sense that our bodies would evolve a mechanism to reward us for participating in social behavior—our bodies have long since been incentivizing behavior that is geared toward survival of the group, not just the individual. Laughter strengthens emotional and social bonds, so much so that laughing together is correlated with relationship satisfaction and relationship duration in couples.
Okay, so the main bullet point of the above presentation is: laughing is good for you. And because I care about you, I’ve dug up some things that might just get you chortling away. I might even gigglesnort along the way, so we’re bonding! Yay for neurochemical incentives!
Babies’ laughter is just some of the most contagious laughter in the world. I just… *cackles*
I’m also one of those people that struggles so hard watching someone else trying to choke back a guffaw. It never fails to get me chuckling when someone breaks character on Saturday Night Live or someone trying to not laugh at their own joke. Anderson Cooper losing it over a “RedicuList” entry is one of my go-tos when I need a good laugh.
Okay, this one has some adult language, so maybe don’t watch it while kids are in the vicinity. But, y’all. I laugh so hard I nearly cry every time I see it.
The YouTube channel Bad Lip Reading is just packed with paroxysm-inducing material.
OMG, my sides hurt so bad!
And do not forget about the ever-present danger that is the giggle loop.
So, on International Moment of Laughter Day, I want to wish each of you good health, good cheer, and a metric buttload of side-splitting laughter! And if you are so inclined to spread the neurochemical wealth, link us to what tickles your funny bone (G through PG-13, please) in the comments!