Despite initial complaints about the exorbitant price, the best money I spent in the recent past were tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld and then Steve Martin/Martin Short with a group of friends. Tears streaming down our faces, we laughed hysterically for the entire length of both shows. Walking out of the show, we all felt lighter, more radiant, connected, and enjoyed a dramatically improved sense of well being. Even though months have passed since the last show, I can call up that feeling any time I reminisce about the show.
I regularly turn to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Success poem when I need to remind myself of what’s important. Although the entire poem is full of timeless wisdom and guidance, the first line is perhaps the easiest and most accessible on a daily basis; To laugh often and much.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Despite engendering that delicious sense of joy, laughter not surprisingly has excellent effects on your overall health! It is considered a mild workout which oxygenates your entire body, burns a few calories, and tones your abdominals. It might not give you buns of steel, but laughter provides many of the benefits of regular exercise.
As you continue to laugh, your heart rate increases (perhaps more effectively than regular exercise), your circulation improves, inflammation goes down, pain decreases, immunity improves via increased killer T cell activity, and blood sugar improves. Your mind even benefits through better memory, increased endorphins, and less stress.
Unless you’re paying for expensive comedian tickets, laughter is free and all around you. Kids are especially helpful for finding hysterical clips on the internet. Here’s a few links to get you started:
- Check out this mom who gifted herself a Chewbaca mask for her birthday. I don’t think it’s possible not to laugh at this.
- Commuters on a subway train enjoy some infectious laughter with strangers. What a great way to start your day off!
- There is even a style of yoga that stimulates us to laugh. At first it seems silly and childlike, but when you actually start doing the “postures” you cannot help but start to authentically laugh. Here’s an introduction from a prominent laughter yoga teacher Robert Rivest.