Why and How to Laugh More as a Self-Care Strategy
An ancient greek by the name of Democritus is best known for his contributions to atomic theory. But he was also called the “laughing philosopher” because of his emphasis on cheerfulness and not taking life too seriously.
Not to feed stereotypes but I have to ask, how many non-serious uber-jolly scientists (or philosophers for that matter) do you know or know of?
I point that out because the juxtaposition of Democritus’ work and outlook is worth exploring. He made significant contributions to two different fields (science and philosophy) while apparently keeping a lighthearted disposition and mocking human nature along the way.
Much of Democritus’ works may be lost but here’s why his viewpoint on laughter should carry on.
The Benefits of Laughter
Dr. William Fry, was a psychology professor at Stanford University and the first to propose laughter as a legitimate field of scientific study. Unfortunately the Vietnam War limited his work due to budgetary restrictions, but he still pursued his ideas informally and published groundbreaking work on the impact of laughter on physiology.
Dr. Fry’s work has been expanded on by other Gelotologists (“scientists of laughter”) who are making even more headway. Time reported on the research of Dr. Lee Bark a preventive care physician and immunologist who has spent over 30 years studying the effects of laughter.
According to the insights and findings of Dr. Fry, Dr. Bark, and other thinkers in the field, “mirthful” laughter has the following health benefits:
Releases endorphins that make you feel happy
Lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow
Lessens stress by winding down your stress response
Boosts the immune system and helps fight infections
Reduces risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease
Produces cancer killer cells in cancer patients
Uplifts mood and gives you a sense of confidence
Relieves pain by producing natural painkillers
How to Laugh More
Modern-day researchers have proven that Democritus was clearly on to something, but how do you incorporate laughing into your self-care routine so you can reap these benefits? Here are 17 super simple (and a few silly) ways to laugh more:
Find a laughter therapist
Take a laughter yoga session
Watch a comedy flick
Read a funny book
Bookmark a humor blog
Hang around funny people
Spend more time playing
Plan a harmless prank
Find a funny podcast
Enroll in an improv class
Listen to other people laugh
Spend time with children
Create some original jokes
Go to a live comedy show
Write a silly short story
Choreograph a dance routine
Throw a random costume gathering
Laughter has a ways to go before it becomes formally accepted by the medical community as a legitimate form of treatment and therapy. But do we really need a gold stamp of approval before embracing it more?
Laughter feels good and is an immediate mood booster. That alone justifies adopting Democritus’ approach and incorporating it into your self-care routine. For more information on laughter refer to these resources:
Laughter Therapy Book
Medical News Today