The topic of the many physiological benefits of laughter has been written about so frequently that it is now overdone and so been-there-have-the-T-shirt. As we move into the holiday season, I recommend that you take a brand new, fresh look at the marvelous action of laughter. Don't let its overexposure allow you to forget laughing really is very, very good for you. (If you happen to be a chronically grumpy lawyer, keep reading because I have something for you.)
For your refresher course, the How Stuff Works site gives you an overview of laughter and its many benefits:
- Just exactly what is this thing called laughter?
- And why do we do it?
- What's happening in our brain when we laugh?
- What makes us laugh?
You may want to jump right to the section on laughter and health because that's where you will be reminded of those great benefits. Laughing
- Reduces levels of some stress hormones
- Increases the concentration of salivary immunoglobulin A, which defends against infectious organisms
- Provides an aerobic workout (laughing 110 times is equal to 15 minute on the exercise bike)
- Lowers blood pressure
- Provides a way for negative emotions to be released harmlessly
- Oxygenates the blood which promotes healing
- Exercises your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles
- Likely enhances several parts of the immune system.
With that list of benefits, why would you not laugh—and laugh often? If you are a grumpy lawyer (or know one), here's my article for grumps: "Don't Deck the Clown: Inviting Humor Into the Law Firm" [pdf] (Law Governance Review).
Now, with that reminder, go forward and have a laughter-rich holiday season!
Note: Did you know that the physiological study of laughter is called gelotology?
- The fun, fun fundamentals of success
- Humility, Humor, and Humanity
- Laughter truly has some serious benefits (even for lawyers): Take advantage of those benefits today
- You can't slap a clown nose on a bad attitude
Note (added November 30, 2008, 3:50 PM): Related article "Patients treat serious illness as laughing matter" (Washington Post).