Benefits of Laughing at Life, Even When It Isn’t Funny

There is nothing funny about the lack of humour.

By Carol E Wyer

HEALTH When I was ten years old, my grandfather took me to Scarborough to see the British comedian, Ken Dodd. I loved the show. I snorted and guffawed at the jokes, especially his opening one, "What a beautiful day for sticking a cucumber through someone’s letterbox and shouting, Help, help! The Martians have landed!"

I adored his mad hair, large teeth sticking out and ridiculous jokes. What I liked most though, was the energy that surrounded him, and the fantastic feeling I got from cackling and crowing with laughter throughout the performance, embarrassing both my mother and my grandfather.

At the end of the show, he sang a song called Happiness, in which are the lines:
"I thank the Lord that I've been blessed, with more than my share of happiness."

He who laughs…lasts –Erma Bombeck

I have since associated happiness with laughter and vice versa. Laughter can make you happier. It has long been said that laughter is a medicine or tonic. Moreover, recent studies corroborate that statement. Without getting too technical, I can relay that laughter reduces the level of stress hormones, such as cortisol. It encourages health enhancing hormones like endorphins and increases the number of antibody producing cells which in turn results in a stronger immune system.

Laughter provides a physical and emotional release. It gives you an internal workout. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even gives your heart and shoulders a workout. A chuckle can deflect negative emotions such as anger, guilt or stress. Humour gives us a more light-hearted perspective so we might see something as a challenge rather than a threat.

Laughter Therapy

More important than all of the above, laughter connects us with others. Some years ago my husband and I were invited to attend a laughter course. We snorted with derision at the whole concept but went along because it was run by a neighbour whom we didn't wish to offend.

We all lay down on the floor forming a circle, hands on bellies. We had to feign laughter. Our neighbour began. He had a wholesome, Santa Claus type of laugh that made us snicker slightly. Others joined in with high pitched laughs, contagious giggles, happy sounding chuckles and sniggers. When I emitted a laugh I felt it transmit to my stomach, which made me laugh even more. That, along with the sound of laughter filling the room, soon meant that we were all guffawing genuinely, to the point of hysteria. We felt so much better after the session, as we wiped away tears and hugged everyone goodbye.

Even if you don’t feel like chortling merrily, the body can be fooled by even a fake laugh and will feel benefits mentioned above.

A recent study revealed that an average healthy child will laugh approximately four hundred times a day, whereas a normal healthy adult will laugh a mere fifteen times a day on average. I believe wholeheartedly in getting my daily dose of laughter. My mission each day is to attempt to make as many people smile or laugh as I can and I always start each day trying to make my husband laugh. That is no mean feat in itself. It usually takes six jokes before he cracks, or tells me to shut up.

A day without laughter is a day wasted –Charlie Chaplin

Humour and laughter has always played a large role in my life. I hid behind the mask of class clown in an effort to be accepted by others. It allowed me to mix with people even though inside I was a quaking jelly. A joke, pulling a funny face or being able to imitate people’s accents somehow helps you integrate better. I have since always tried to make people laugh whether that be at work or at social events. Laughter saw me through some very bleak times in my life, particularly when spinal injury disrupted my life. Humour carried me through several major operations, paralysis, months of bedridden discomfort and anxiety.

Given I am too old to become a stand-up comedienne, I decided to attempt to entertain and amuse people through my writing. If you don't come away from one of my books having chuckled a lot then I'll eat my hat. (Pompom and all!)

I've been asked many times why I chose to write humour, after all, it is not easy to do it well. I didn't really know why I wanted so desperately to write witty books but the answer is, in fact, glaringly obvious. I love to see people happy. Happiness and laughter are fundamental to our well being. When I receive emails telling me how much someone has enjoyed reading my books and how much they laughed throughout, then I know I have achieved what I set out to do.

In my own way, I wanted to share my abundance of happiness. And I do that through laughter. It is important to me that I can make people feel better about themselves and life, even if it is just for a short while. Maybe that funny man Ken Dodd influenced me far more than I realised.

    “A wise old man told me one time,
    Happiness is a frame of mind.
    When you go to measuring my success,
    Don’t count my money;
    Count my happiness.”

—Lyrics from Happiness by Ken Dodd

About The Author
Carol Wyer

Carol E Wyer is a blogger and author of humorous novels including, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines and Surfing In Stilettos.
Read How Not To Murder a Grumpy released by Safkhet Publishing June 1, 2013. For more information, please visit her website.

Tags: comedians, funny, great britain, humor, humorous, jovial, therapeutic