Laughter Essay, Research Paper


Laughter is an emotion that has been vastly

underestimated by our society. Laughter is ultimately

an expression of emotion – joy, surprise, nervousness,

amusement. Laughter is the sun that drives winter from

the human face. Laughter is a healthy means of

releasing pent-up feelings. Laughter is such an intristic

part of our lives that we sometimes forget how very odd

it is.

Plato?s Superiority Theory suggests that we laugh

because a particular person has a defect or is at a

disadvantage (Blistein 563). Anecdotal evidence has

long suggested that people ?feel better? after a hearty

laugh. Laughter can also promote coughing, which, in

turn, helps rid the trachea and bronchi of phlegm and


Laughter is a natural, physical process which

releases pain, physically and emotionally. Laughter

springs from our emotional core. Laughter helps

release and transform our emotional pain. One cannot

laugh and be afraid simultaneously, it?s physically

impossible. While laughing you cannot think of anything

else. Either you think or you laugh, but not both.

Laughter reduces aggression and conflict. Laughter

relieves anxiety. Laughter also shrinks the source and

size of our fears. Laughter has benefited many people

to sleep better and reduce depression (Junkins 2).

People with suicidal tendencies have started living with

more hope (Junkins 2). Laughter helps us feel better

(Junkins 1). After you laugh, you go into a relaxed state

(Doskoch 33). Laughter helps us creatively weigh and

use our options. Laughter gives us back our

playfulness, a characteristic of all mankind (Junkins 1).

Playing with painful things is a major source for our

laughter (Junkins 2).

Mother Nature did not provide us with laughter

just for grins. She gave us laughter to heal our bodies

and our emotions so we can cope with life as we

experience it. Laughter can be an excellent source of

cardiac exercise, it causes the heart rate to rise for up

to five minutes (McGhee 52). When a patient who is at

risk for pulmonary infection laughs, it helps clear his

lungs of residual air, which contains high levels of

carbon dioxide and water vapor. Other studies have

found that humor and laughter boost humoral and

cellular immunity by increasing levels of other key

components of the immune system. People who have

suffered strokes in the primitive brain region have been

known to have prolonged bouts of pathological laughter

(McGhee 52). When a person laughs the brain produces

endorphins one of the body?s natural pain killers

(McGhee 51). Laughter increases production of

immunity-boosting gamma interferon and speeds up the

production of new immune cells (Doskoch 33). Laughter

may help some people more than others (Doskoch 34).

Humor and laughter strengthens the body?s

resistance to infections, offers pain relief and serves as

a medium to release tension, frustration, and anger

(McGhee 50). A long hard laugh is like internal jogging.

Laughter, mind you, is not the same thing as humor.

Humor is only one trigger for laughter, although a really

good one (Junkins 2). Other triggers for laughter might

be tense or boring situations, absurd things happening

at serious moments, embarrassment, or the

uncomplicated, unsophisticated truth (Junkins 2).

The use of laughter as a method of stress

reduction and healing became popular in the 1980?s

after the publication of Anatomy of an Illness written by

Norman Cousins in 1979. Suffering from a painful

life-threatening disease, Cousins believed that laughter

was a significant feature of his treatment and recovery.

By laughing it helps to remind us that those things in life

that do not kill us can make us stronger.

Laughter allows us to bond with other people and

ease our loneliness. Laughter creates bonds between

management and employees, and employees feel more

connected to one another (Junkins 1). If we can allow

laughter at work, we will feel less overwhelmed and

better able to do our jobs (Junkins 1). Laughter allows

us to be creative and to work harder but more

comfortable. Laughter happens when people are

comfortable with one another. Laughter is out of

control (Junkins 1). If you seek out companions who

laugh a lot, you will laugh a lot more. Laughter is

contagious, laughter creates laughter. People are thirty

times likely to laugh around other people than when

they are alone (Junkins 1).

Another way laughter can help a patient reduce his

stress is by giving him a sense of control. Laughter is

more of a supplementary and preventive therapy

(Junkins 1). Laughter can provide immediate relief from

life?s daily pressures. A good laugh helps the body

relax. During exuberant laughter, there is a change in

many parts of the body even the arm, legend trunk

muscles. When you laugh, the skeletal muscles in your

arms and legs relax. One study found that stress

hormones were reduced after participants watched a

videotape of a one-hour comedy routine. A person can

change a negative flame of mind into a positive one

through humor and laughter.

Laughter is not only as good a method of stress

relief as a massage, a hot bath or exercise, it is

essential to stress relief. The ability to get a laugh out

of everyday situations is a safety valve that will rid you

of tensions that might otherwise continue to build and

damage your health. Laughter through tears, has been

called the perfect emotion (Junkins 1). One theory

proposes that laughing triggers a sequence of actions in

which muscle tension first increases, than decreases -

which, explains why you can end up ?weak? with

laughter (McGhee 52).

Charles Darwin, the father of the theory of

evolution, mused that tickling and humor must be

related because both make people laugh. Studies show

that laughter during tickling is a reflex, not a response

to a feeling that tickling is funny (Marcus 67). We laugh

when we really need it most if we let the body do what

comes naturally (Junkins 1). Human beings are born

with the gift of laughter. A sense of humor is not

necessary to laugh. The more you practice laughing,

the better your sense of humor becomes. Finding the

things that spark your sense of humor and enjoying

them often offers the reward of ongoing laughter. After

fifteen minutes of laughter in the morning, you will feel

fresh throughout the day (Junkins 1). Laughter will help

you feel pleasure and fun once again. Perhaps the most

obvious effect of laughter is on our mood (Doskoch 32).

A good laugh can help us to see life from a different

perspective and face our problems with a renewed

concentration and hope.

Laughter helps us see things more clearly.

Laughter also improves our mood through social means.

Laughter will clear your mind, lift your mood, and help

you cope (Junkins 3). Laughter is an expression of

mood that involves the entire cerebral cortex of the

brain and is closely related to mental and physical

health (Doskoch 32).

Most important is the experience of the wonderful

healing power which is unleashed when we laugh.

Laughter relieves anxiety. Thirty minutes a day of

?mirthful laughing? can help protect coronary patients

from repeat heart attacks (Junkins 1). Allowing

laughter to swell into a movement across the land

would reduce our growing anger and violence (Junkins

1). Everyone would be in less of a funk if they laughed

more. If your laughing, you are not as likely to find

yourself driving at ramming speeds and in a fit of road

rage (Junkins 3).

In closing, laughter is a very unique emotion that

is unfortunately undervalued and vastly underestimated

by today?s society. Laughter is an emotion that

provides many benefits such as stress relief, bonding

with others, exercise, etc. Laughter is a cheerful

emotion that people should think about more often.

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