Friday, November 22, 2013

Laughing Improves Happiness

I have become transfixed on the idea that laughing improves happiness. In one of my favorite talks by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, called Come What May and Love it, he talks about a time his daughter was supposed to go on a blind date that he and his wife weren't super excited about. An older gentleman came to the door to pick her up. She made introductions to her family, and they got in the car. For what seemed several minutes, the car didn't move. He shares his account: 

"We watched as she got into the car, but the car didn’t move. Eventually our daughter got out of the car and, red faced, ran back into the house. The man that she thought was her blind date had actually come to pick up another of our daughters who had agreed to be a babysitter for him and his wife.

We all had a good laugh over that. In fact, we couldn’t stop laughing. Later, when our daughter’s real blind date showed up, I couldn’t come out to meet him because I was still in the kitchen laughing. Now, I realize that our daughter could have felt humiliated and embarrassed. But she laughed with us, and as a result, we still laugh about it today.

The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable."

I recently read an article talking about the health benefits of laughing. From the online website,, the article Laughter is the Best Medicine states: 

"Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health."

I always heard that when a person smiles, they use less muscles than when they frown. I didn't know how true this was, but I liked the idea. I decided to see what said about it. Just in case you didn't know, is all about getting to the bottom of rumors, spam, and untrue social media circulation. 

Here is what they say on the theory, "The saying's age is not its only mystery; there's no real agreement as to how many muscles have to be worked in the face to produce a smile or a frown. And, given that even what constitutes a smile is up for grabs (some avow the muscles around the eyes get involved; other discount that and look only to those necessary to lift the corners of the mouth), it's possible this is one of those questions for which there will never be a definitive answer. YET whatever medical science ultimately decides about how many angles are dancing on the the head of this particular pin, we would say the resultant numbers would be immaterial because it's the homily's underlying message that matters not the raw facts of it."

I started reading Bram Stoker's Dracula for the first time. I LOVE it! There was one chapter where after a traumatic experience Dr. Van Helsing starts crying then laughing, then crying, then laughing. The person who was with him during this episode,and who knew the history of the occasion, was confused by these outbursts thinking them inappropriate or rude. 

When asked how these outbursts came about, Van Helsing said some magical words, "...King Laugh, he come to me and shout and bellow in my ear, "Here I am! Here I am!" till the blood come dance back and bring some of the sunshine that he carry with him to my cheek. Oh, friend John, it is a strange world, a sad world, a world full of miseries and woes, and troubles; and yet when King Laugh come he make them all dance to the tune he play. [Excerpt continues] But King Laugh he come like sunshine, and he ease off the strain again, and we bear to go on with our labour, what it may be."

I too have experienced laughing fits. They are certainly harder to come by when stress is the rue of the day. But once had, it is not hard for me to want and to crave after laughter. I like surrounding myself with people who are quick to laugh. I am often jealous of those people who make others laugh with such ease. At first, I was bothered by not being that person, but now I just seek the company of those who make me laugh, and LOVE it. 

While I haven't necessarily been able to prove that laughing improves happiness through data or research, I can attest to how it helps me alleviate stress, improves my personal morale, encourages those around me, breaks down barriers, and helps me "ease the strain," all of which contribute to my happiness.

What do you think? Does laughter affect you the way it does me?

And just for kicks, I have included one of my favorite videos that gave me one of the best laughing fits. Enjoy!

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