Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I’d like to see you in better living conditions.
Laughter makes you feel more content and relaxed because it stimulates a certain type of hormones called catecholamines. Catecholamines trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, capable of reducing pain and stimulating elation) as well as dopamine (the “reward” drug).
Laughter keeps depression and anxiety at bay by boosting the production of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant.
Candace Pert (American neuroscientist and pharmacologist who discovered the opiate receptor, the cellular binding site for endorphins in the brain) says that “repressing emotions can only be causative of disease. The chemicals that are running our body and our brain are the same chemicals that are involved in emotion. And that says to me that we’d better pay more attention to emotions with respect to health.”
It is through the emotions you experience in connection with your thoughts and daily attitudes—actually, through the neurochemical changes that accompany these emotions—that your mind acquires the power to influence whether you get sick or remain well.
The key, according to Pert, is found in complex molecules called neuropeptides. “A peptide is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. There are twenty-three different amino acids. Peptides are amino acids strung together very much like pearls strung along in a necklace.” Peptides are found throughout the body, including the brain and immune system. The brain contains many different neuropeptides, including endorphins. Neuropeptides are the means by which all cells in the body communicate with each other. This includes brain-to-brain messages, brain-to-body messages, body-to-body messages, and body-to-brain messages.
Individual cells, including brain cells, immune cells, and other body cells, have receptor sites that receive neuropeptides. The kinds of neuropeptides available to cells are constantly changing, reflecting variations in your emotions throughout the day. The exact combination of neuropeptides released during different emotional states has not yet been determined.
The kind and number of emotion-linked neuropeptides available at receptor sites of cells influence your probability of staying well or getting sick. Pert notes that “Viruses use these same receptors to enter into a cell, and depending on how much of the natural peptide for that receptor is around, the virus will have an easier or harder time getting into the cell. So our emotional state will affect whether we’ll get sick from the same loading dose of a virus.”
Along these lines, Pert has also noted that “The AIDS virus uses a receptor that is normally used by a neuropeptide. So whether an AIDS virus will be able to enter a cell or not depends on how much of this natural peptide is around, which would be a function of what state of emotional expression the organism is in.”
Laughter is a coping mechanism and great neutralizer
Laughter can be used as a coping mechanism when one is upset, angry or sad. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Laughter lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It may also be a good way for people to relax because muscle tension is reduced after laughing.
Being a great neutralizer, laughter can dissipate frustrations and help you reframe a situation, thus fostering a more positive outlook. In times of difficulty, laughter counteracts negative feelings of anger, frustration, or helplessness. It is shown that it actually breaks the pain cycle, gives comfort, restores energy, and can give you hope to keep fighting if you are battling an illness or depression. Laugher can be a great coping mechanism or temporary escape.
In Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, describes research that he and George Bonanno, professor of education and psychology at Columbia University in New York City, conducted to answer the question, “What allows people to adjust to life-altering traumas?” They interviewed 45 adults who had watched their spouses die six months earlier. Keltner and Bonanno wanted to determine which emotions predicted a healthy adjustment to loss in these survivors. They assessed anxiety, depression and protracted grief in the months and years following the loss. As Keltner describes in his book, he and Bonanno found the widows and widowers who smiled and laughed when they talked about their deceased spouses during the initial interviews experienced less grief six, 14 and 25 months later.
Keltner and Bonanno also checked for a correlation with elevated heart rates, a sign of emotional arousal, in their grieving subjects during interviews about their dead spouses. Both laughers and non-laughers had higher heart rates. The non-laughers, though, also displayed increased emotional distress, while the laughers’ heart rate elevations weren’t linked to emotional distress. This led Keltner and Bonanno to conclude that laughter gave these people a brief “vacation” from mourning, helping them separate the emotional and physiological components of grief. “What it’s telling us,” says Keltner, “is that laughter is this little trap door that allows you to escape from the toxic stress.”
Laughter Yoga and Laughter Wellness help you be more spontaneous by getting you out of your head and away from your troubles. They both help you let go of defensiveness by helping you forget judgments, criticisms, and doubts.
Laughter also helps to release unhealthy inhibitions. It brings you to a place where you can set aside your fear of holding back. Choose to laugh at a situation now instead of years down the road. In many instances it is only the passage of time that makes something turn from unpleasant or embarrassing to hilarious.
Laughter and emotional intelligence
There is much more to health than merely being free of illness, having good genes, or taking the right pills. The best prescription for good health involves creating the right frame of mind and connecting to the intelligence and power of your heart. With the right frame of mind, you are more likely to see and do what is needed for your health. When you are connected to your heart, you gain the conviction, passion, and power to make the necessary changes
Unconditional laughter needs no words and therefore knows no language barriers. This is why laughter is the common language of the human race. Everybody laughs. It connects people one with another at the heart level and helps everyone develop an attitude of forgiveness, generosity and compassion while actively seeking the happiness of others. It provides a unique opportunity for social interactions and networking without judgment.
Using appreciation and forgiveness as tools to connect with people and raise their spirits is a powerful way to increase their happiness and also our own.
Practicing Laughter Yoga and Laughter Wellness is the cheapest and happiest health insurance policy you can get. Their impact isn’t just a quick pick-me-up. It’s also good for you over the long haul. Anything can happen at any time so its important to have a strong mental attitude to be ready to face any negative situation or experience that you encounter.
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