HEALTHY LIVING
04/20/2013 09:06 am ET

Laughter Benefits: Why Humor Is The Best Way To Cope

Getty Images

By Sam Ferrigno for HooplaHa.com

Overcoming any obstacle is easier with a laugh or two. Or a hundred.

Laughter is physically good for you. Seriously, it’s like a super vitamin. It relieves muscle tension, improves your memory, bolsters your immune system and helps prevent heart disease, among other things. It’s worth it to even fake laugh at your co-workers awful joke involving the whatever walking into a bar/church.

It calms you down, despite the current vein-bulging, eye-twitch-inducing argument you’re in. When you don’t want to laugh, that’s when your jerk-face brain will make it impossible for you to resist. As soon as someone says “don’t laugh,” you’re immediate inclination is to either snicker or guffaw. Why deny yourself the pleasure? Humor will settle things down before you or your opponent start throwing things at each other’s heads.

It relieves the stress of more serious emotions. When your heart breaks, you want to be sad, and you want to give that sadness your attention. We often avoid laughter in order to respect the weight of losing a loved one, a job or a big mistake we've made. Those, however, are the times we especially need something to laugh at. Humor makes light of loss to keep it from crushing us.

Scary things are less scary when you laugh at them. For example: When that guy in Jurassic Park gets eaten by the T-Rex, it’s terrifying. He’s screaming as the T-rex thrashes him around like a rag-doll. I was five when I saw that and I thought I was going to have a heart attack (thanks, Dad). But when my dad directed my attention to the fact that the man was sitting on a toilet when he got eaten, I laughed -- all toddlers love toilet humor (thanks again, Dad). This concept follows us as we grow older. The context changes but the practice still works just the same.

It cures boredom. This might be the most important one. You know you’ve got a good friend when you don’t care what you do with her. She asks you if you want to go rock climbing -- sure. She wants to check out a new movie -- let’s do it. She asks if you want to go to a wine tasting and pretend to know what the difference between Pinot and Chardonnay is -- duh, you’re already there with a glass for you and her. All this because she makes you laugh. You could sit and stare at each other on bench and you’d find a way to entertain yourselves. The friend who makes you laugh most should be doted on almost as much (if not, more), than the person you fall in love with.

For more on happiness, click here.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
We’re basically your best friend… with better taste.

CONVERSATIONS