As children, laughter came easily.
Mom or Dad making a funny face, friends farting with their armpits was all it took for us to fall into fits of giggles.
But, as we get older and more preoccupied with the ‘serious’ things in life, laughter tends to come less and less naturally, which, as it turns out, may also be getting in the way of us living longer.
In a 15-year study published in April 2016 in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal, Norwegian researchers reported findings on the link between sense of humor and mortality among 53,556 women and men in their country.
Findings showed that, for women, high scores on sense of humor were associated with 48 percent less risk of death from all causes, a 73 percent lower risk of death from heart disease and an 83 percent lower risk of death from infection.
In men, a link was found only for the risk of death from infection, in which those with high humor scores had a 74 percent reduced risk.
This report aligns with other studies linking chronic stress to high rates of disease and infection, especially among women.
Laughter is a natural way to decrease stress, depression and high blood pressure, whereas frequently elevated stress hormones, such as cortisol, can suppress immune functions in the body.
Laughter can also ease our social interactions and help create bonds, another strong factor in our overall survival and longevity in life.
If your personality tends to be more stoic, and you’re reading this article now like it’s your death sentence, don’t fret. It’s possible to train yourself to consciously think positively and pay more attention to the funny things in life, whatever your sense of humor entails personally, whether it’s stand-up comedy, memes or embarrassing family photos. Maybe try talking to your zany friends more often.
A global movement called Laughter Yoga, developed by Dr. Madan Kataria from India, draws upon the therapeutic benefits of mirth by gathering groups of people together to laugh through guided techniques and exercises.
Often, these exercises simply start by having a group of people voluntarily start laughing, even if there is nothing funny in particular, and eventually, the mock laughter turns into real laughter, as if contagious, and can go on for prolonged amounts of time. It may sound like another strange variation on an ancient practice (and, by the way, here’s another one), but laughter yoga is also based on the belief that even voluntary laughter is as beneficial as the spontaneous kind.
These types of Laughter Clubs can be found throughout Massachusetts, but you can also start your own club among your group of friends and family.
C’mon Get Happy
Here are some things we like that should get you guffawing. …
PEN15 on Hulu; Veep on HBO; I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson on Netflix; Drunk History on Comedy Central
“How Did This Get Made?”; “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend”; “You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes”; “Anna Faris is Unqualified”
@girlwithnojob; @textsfromyourexistentialist; @kathygriffin; @chrissyteigen; @amyschumer
Honest Trailers; Bad Lip Reading; The Onion; The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon