Why Humor Works
Humor works because it can heal us emotionally. Think about how you feel after experiencing an episode of gut wrenching laughter. Perhaps you’ve watched a funny movie or maybe you’ve attended a professional comedy show. Do you feel cleansed, renewed, and energized? If so, chances are that you’ve had a cathartic experience. According to Wikipedia, catharsis refers to a sudden emotional climax that evokes feelings of great laughter or any other extreme change in emotion, resulting in restoration, renewal and revitalization in members of the audience. These intense feelings of euphoria and good humor can last for up to 45 minutes afterward. The long term emotional benefits of laughter include a decrease in stress levels and a more relaxed attitude. Maybe if you laugh more frequently, you’ll find yourself cursing your boss under your breath less often and perhaps you’ll even altogether stop flipping the bird to all the other drivers on the freeway.
According to a study done at Texas A& M, comedy works because it makes us more hopeful. Scientists showed half of the test subjects a funny video; the other half of the participants viewed nothing. Participants who watched the laughter invoking video scored higher on a survey of hopefulness than their non-laughing counterparts. Laugh more and you’ll experience more hopefulness and with the often depressing affairs of the world today who couldn’t use a little more hope in their daily lives?
Comedy works because it holds the power to heal our bodies. Laughter may provide emotional strength and endurance to people struggling with hardships. A friend of mine, whom I’ll call Chrissy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of becoming depressed, Chrissy was determined to use humor to deal with her illness. She donned a purple wig and laughed at every opportunity. Chrissy chuckled with friends, watched funny movies, and went to professional comedy presentations. Today, after a long and hard battle, she is cancer free. According to a study at the University of Maryland, people with heart disease are 40% less likely to laugh compared to people the same age with no heart disease. Laughing can prevent high blood pressure, strokes, arthritis, heart disease and ulcers. Laughter truly can be the best medicine.
Comedy works because it reduces stress and keeps sickness at bay. Laughing has been proven to strengthen the immune system making it easier for our bodies to fight nasty infections and viruses. Humor can also trigger the release of endorphins, a feel-good chemical our bodies produce. These endorphins make us feel happy and stress-free.
Comedy really does work. Get out there and laugh loud and often! Your spirit, your heart and your health just may depend upon a daily dose of laughter.