7 Science-Backed Reasons Why Laughing is So Good for You

Photo by Lara Laing
Photo by Lara Laing
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The Challenge: Some days can get so tough that we forget to laugh.
The Science: Research finds that laughter has surprising benefits for our well-being.
The Solution: Find opportunities to laugh out loud everyday! 

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. ~Woody Allen

Everyone enjoys a good laugh, but who actually makes time for it in their lives? Sure, we enjoy it when we happen to hear a funny joke, hang around with someone with a good sense of humor or watch a comedy. But few of us take our laughs seriously (no pun intended!). But we should! The science of laughter – though still preliminary – suggests that it has tremendous benefits for our health and psychological well-being.

1) It improves your relationships. Research shows it makes you more open to new people & helps you build relationships

2) It boosts your memory and lowers your stress. A study showed that it can sharpen your ability to remember things while also reducing the stress hormone cortisol, especially in older people.

3) It makes you resilient. Ever had nervous laughter in an awkward or difficult situation? That’s because laughter may help you regulate your emotions in the face of challenge, one study suggests.

4) It improves your health. For example,  a study with diabetic patients found that it lowers stress and inflammation and increases good cholesterol. Ever found yourself laughing while telling a joke or funny story? Maybe you were anticipating the ending and laughed your way through the end of the joke? Another study suggests that just anticipating a funny event boosted immune function while decreasing stress-related hormones.

5) It makes you a better learner! When we are trying to learn something new, we usually are pretty serious but research shows that a good laugh while learning new material will help you engage with it more!

6) It’s makes you attractive.  A recent study shows that, humor and playfulness are highly valued traits in potential romantic partners.

7) It helps you make the world a better place. Why? It’s contagious. At least the level of the brain, according to research by Sophie Scott.

Liked this article? Check out Emma Seppala’s new book The Happiness Track

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Emma Seppälä

Emma Seppälä

EMMA SEPPÄLÄ, Ph.D. is the author of The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success and Science Director of Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. She also teaches at Yale University and consults with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She founded Fulfillment Daily and a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review and Psychology Today.
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