By Yakov Smirnoff

Have you ever noticed that everyone laughs the same? Well, some laughs are a little peculiar, but everyone on the planet knows what a laugh is. Even if you don’t know how to ask were the bathroom is, you know a laugh in an instant.

Laughter, like smiles, is one of the few universal methods of communication between humans. Even some animals seem to be able to follow along when we laugh. And when people share laughter, there is a special connection between them, even if they aren’t speaking the same language.

Laughter is one of the most welcoming emotional expressions which humans have, and one which excludes no one (with one exception for mean laughter). The laughter of others can be infectious, and lead to even more laughter. This is a great benefit for all of the people of the world.

How do you react to laughter? Excluding times when you feel foolish because you just did something poorly (or something you should not have done), it’s usually a pretty good feeling, isn’t it? That feeling is part of why most TV shows have laugh tracks (or live audiences with ‘LAUGH’ signs).

When people laugh, they tend to feel better about themselves and their situation. It’s a fairly simple to do, and it costs you nothing (except the possibility of a little bit of your pride).

It’s also a scientific fact that laughter is good for our health as well as for helping people bond as a group (NYT discusses both). It also helps with pain relief and stress relief as well. (Mayo Clinic discusses both).

It appears that humans have had laughter and music as bonding elements as far back as anyone can tell. Even primates have something very similar (a rhythmic panting sound). In humans as well as primates, laughter is part of group bonding, and is part of why it makes for such a universal connection.