In a follow-up study, I asked another group of FDU students to engage not only in one minute of laughter, but also in one minute of howling and one minute of smiling. Pre- and post-test ratings of mood by the students for each of these activities revealed that the physiological arousal of howling did not put them in a better mood, and smiling produced only a small increase in positive affect. The greatest improvement resulted from the minute of hearty laughter.
It seems that once our brain signals our body to laugh, the body doesn’t care why. It’s going to release endorphins, which trigger a “feel good” mood state.
Can we all benefit from brief periods of self-induced laughter? It may sound strange to sit by yourself and laugh vigorously for a minute but you may want to give it a try once or twice and see for yourself how helpful it can be. In addition to cheering you up, it is likely to relax you, energize you and rejuvenate you. Perhaps this is why laughter clubs are so popular in India and other parts of the world.
Norman Cousins, magazine editor of National Review, once said that laughter is like “inner jogging” — a good workout for the body and soul. Sadie Delaney, one of two New York sisters who lived past 100 and wrote a book about their lives, said, “Life is short, and it’s up to us to make it sweet.” What is sweeter than a good laugh? more ...