Why do we laugh?
I found this article on MSNBC.com~
A big mystery: Why do we laugh?
Contrary to folk wisdom, most laughter is not about humor
By Robert Provine, Ph.D.
Special to msnbc.com
May 27, 1999 — Laughter is part of the universal human vocabulary. All members of the human species understand it. Unlike English or French or Swahili, we don’t have to learn to speak it. We’re born with the capacity to laugh.
One of the remarkable things about laughter is that it occurs unconsciously. You don’t decide to do it. While we can consciously inhibit it, we don’t consciously produce laughter. That’s why it’s very hard to laugh on command or to fake laughter. (Don’t take my word for it: Ask a friend to laugh on the spot.)
Laughter provides powerful, uncensored insights into our unconscious. It simply bubbles up from within us in certain situations.
Very little is known about the specific brain mechanisms responsible for laughter. But we do know that laughter is triggered by many sensations and thoughts, and that it activates many parts of the body.
When we laugh, we alter our facial expressions and make sounds. During exuberant laughter, the muscles of the arms, legs and trunk are involved. Laughter also requires modification in our pattern of breathing.
We also know that laughter is a message that we send to other people. We know this because we rarely laugh when we are alone (we laugh to ourselves even less than we talk to ourselves).
Laughter is social and contagious. We laugh at the sound of laughter itself. That’s why the Tickle Me Elmo doll is such a success — it makes us laugh and smile.
The first laughter appears at about 3.5 to 4 months of age, long before we’re able to speak. Laughter, like crying, is a way for a preverbal infant to interact with the mother and other caregivers.
Contrary to folk wisdom, most laughter is not about humor; it is about relationships between people. To find out when and why people laugh, I and several undergraduate research assistants went to local malls and city sidewalks and recorded what happened just before people laughed. Over a 10-year period, we studied over 2,000 cases of naturally occurring laughter.
We found that most laughter does not follow jokes. People laugh after a variety of statements such as “Hey John, where ya been?” “Here comes Mary,” “How did you do on the test?” and “Do you have a rubber band?”. These certainly aren’t jokes.
We don’t decide to laugh at these moments. Our brain makes the decision for us. These curious “ha ha ha’s” are bits of social glue that bond relationships.
Curiously, laughter seldom interrupts the sentence structure of speech. It punctuates speech. We only laugh during pauses when we would cough or breathe.
An evolutionary perspective
We believe laughter evolved from the panting behavior of our ancient primate ancestors. Today, if we tickle chimps or gorillas, they don’t laugh “ha ha ha” but exhibit a panting sound. That’s the sound of ape laughter. And it’s the root of human laughter.
Apes laugh in conditions in which human laughter is produced, like tickle, rough and tumble play, and chasing games. Other animals produce vocalizations during play, but they are so different that it’s difficult to equate them with laughter. Rats, for example, produce high-pitch vocalizations during play and when tickled. But it’s very different in sound from human laughter.
When we laugh, we’re often communicating playful intent. So laughter has a bonding function within individuals in a group. It’s often positive, but it can be negative too. There’s a difference between “laughing with” and “laughing at.” People who laugh at others may be trying to force them to conform or casting them out of the group.
No one has actually counted how much people of different ages laugh, but young children probably laugh the most. At ages 5 and 6, we tend to see the most exuberant laughs. Adults laugh less than children, probably because they play less. And laughter is associated with play.
We have learned a lot about when and why we laugh, much of it counter-intuitive. Work now underway will tell us more about the brain mechanisms of laughter, how laughter has evolved and why we’re so susceptible to tickling — one of the most enigmatic of human behaviors.
Why is it so important?
The Importance of Laughing
Laughter is a strong and powerful force that has the most positive effects on the body. It improves breathing, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, relaxes muscles, releases stress and reduces pain. This supreme medicine needs no prescription and is free. We have had this effective force within us all time.
With an increasingly hasty society, our technology keeps getting better and makes life faster, thus making our lives seem rushed. There are always so many things to do and so little time and we feel more and more pressure to get things done. Whether we experience corporate stress or personal stress, stress is unhealthy and should be released. Meditation and yoga are reliable ways to release stress but there is another way to that is simpler, FREE!! And what’s more you have it in your possession. Yes this may sound like a online shopping network advert but it true, this feel good technique is called laughter!
Laughter is a worldwide language that unites people, creates a blissful atmosphere and is therapeutic. There are so many benefits of laughter for the mind, body and soul, but how does laughter affect us physically?
Laughter decreases stress hormones (adrenaline, dopac, cortisol, epinephrine, growth hormone) that actually constrict blood vessels causing high blood pressure and heart problems. During stress the adrenal gland releases increased amounts of corticosteroids (converted to cortisol in blood stream) and it has a negative effects on the immune system such as immunosuppressive. Laughter lowers cortisol levels therefore protecting your immune system.
Laughter releases Natural Killer cells that assist in fighting colds, sinus problems and viruses by increasing the absorption of immunoglobulin A in saliva. It also boosts the immune function, increases activity and strengthens the immune system.
Laughing has been compared to an ‘internal jogging’ because your body gets a complete workout from a good belly laugh. Laughing is aerobic exercise for your intercostals, diaphragm, abdominal, facial and respiratory muscles because increases muscle flexion and relieves muscular tension. Muscles do not partake in the action of laughter and therefore they relax. The muscles used to laugh relax after you finish laughing, so they each work in turns. You cannot maintain muscle tension while laughing.
The best cardiac exercise you can do for your heart is to have a good laugh as this regulates heartbeat and increases the circulation and improves the transportation of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. Laughing is one way to beat high blood pressure because it releases stress hormones that causes high blood pressure therefore lowering it and preventing hypertension.
Lungs are what helps us breath and having a laughing fit speeds up more oxygen into your system and improves breathing. It helps empty the lungs of more air as it increases the utility of oxygen and therefore causing a cleansing effect as well as clearing mucus from the lungs.
Laughter reduces pain by increasing the body’s natural painkiller, endorphins and acts as a temporary distraction. In hospitals, doctors use humor therapy programs after surgeries to support in the healing process and improve health. Laughter enhances treatments and reduces the symptoms of arthritis.
Having a sense of humor helps us to interpretate events that happen in our lives. The way we perceive them determines if it will be a challenge, threat, delightful or moments of joy. Humor provides us with different perspectives on issues and if we can lighten the situation, it no longer becomes negative. If ever you are in a tense situation, that is where you need to laugh the most.
Yes for today and everyday here after you too can have a good laugh it’s the only thing that will cost you nothing!!
“If you can laugh at it, you can survive it!” – Bill Cosby
Benefits of Laughter:
1) Stimulates the brain, nervous, respiratory, hormonal and muscular system
2) Lightens depression and is a natural stress reliever
3) Reduces allergy symptoms and pain
4) Raises levels of infection-fighting T-cells and proteins called gamma-interferon and B-cells.
5) Lowers cortisol levels thus protecting the immune system
6) Improves health and well-being
7) Improves relationships
8) Helps to cope with problems more efficiently
Laughter is rejuvenating and refreshing and really is the best medicine.
This article found here
Here are some videos, REALLY TRY NOT TO LAUGH, its hard!
Here was something totally off topic I found, thought I would share!
Happy LAUGHING Sunday!