If the world really needs something beyond the masks, the vaccines, the dedicated people, and the will to work through everyday life in a pandemic, laughter could become very important.

Studies show laughing can boost your immune system, help you relax, and relieve tension. Important advice on the subject comes from Elsa Maxwell who said, “Laugh at yourself before anyone else can.” William James said, “We don’t laugh because we’re happy – we’re happy because we laugh.” But laughing isn’t restricted by age, race, location, or anything else that defines who people are; it is just a spontaneous reaction. Laughing in a group frequently occurs, while bursting out in laughter from something funny or from stress can happen unexpectedly. It can hit anyone at an inappropriate time, or it can come in handy to make light of any subject. It knows no restrictions.

WebMD says laughter can help people who feel rundown and tired. Laughing brings physiological changes as we stretch muscles in our faces and bodies and experience an increase in our breathing, sending more oxygen to our tissues. 

The study of baby laughter in humans finds they can start as early as three months and many months before they speak. Peekaboo is a tried-and-true game to entice lovely laughs from a baby. Is there really anything more heartwarming than hearing a baby laugh? 

Laughter is contagious, too, and even when one fakes a laugh there can be benefits. “Laughter yoga” engages facial muscles, but also the abdomen, lungs, and arms. A person can burn 10-40 calories a minute when engaging in all out uncontrolled laughter. Studies state that dads are considered the least likely to make people laugh because statistically 5% of them provoke laughter, mothers aren’t far behind at 7%, but friends top the list at 38% with significant others coming in at 26%.  

Types of laughs differ with giggles cited as the most popular laugh with 31%. Chuckles follow at 20% with a full belly laugh at 19%. Laughing from tears and the ever-famous guffaw lag behind at about 7%. 

National Let’s Laugh Day seeks to encourage even the most sedate among us to chuckle, smirk, snicker, howl, chortle, and giggle at least one day a year. We schedule time to exercise, eat, do the laundry, and go grocery shopping, so why not put “have a laugh” each day on the calendar? The founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement created World Laughter Day in 1998 after realizing a person’s facial expressions can influence one’s emotions. The day is intended to bring joy and brotherhood to everyone through laughter. 

March 19 is National Let’s Laugh Day, but don’t wait, laugh now and laugh often. It is good for you, it certainly is a lot of fun, and fun is something we may have missed over the past year. 

The Future of Connection for Women

Grace Aspinall

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