We all love to laugh. It just feels good. And we always remember the funny things, because we want to laugh again. Laughter is also the great connector. We love to share laughs with friends, old and new. Humor is, in fact, the best social lubricant there is. It breaks down social barriers fast and brings us together.
Humor also happens to be seriously good for you. Laughter has therapeutic value and promotes overall health and wellness. When we laugh it actually changes our body chemistry in very positive ways. Laughing regularly reduces stress and anxiety, releases muscle tension, boosts our energy, lowers our blood pressure, improves overall cardiac health, triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine (our natural happiness transmitters), strengthens our immune system, and helps us sleep better. Now that’s a superpower!
Bring some laughter home to the people you love. Of course you might have any number of important matters to address with them, but first give five minutes to connect and lift the mood with something funny. Trust us, the serious stuff will go much better if you do. And kids thrive on silly, so if you have little ones around, shake off the furrowed brow (or just turn it into a gorilla or robot face) before you re-engage at day’s end. Rhyming, singing, or just making up outlandish proclamations is highly encouraged. “All baths shall be taken in either mustard, relish or dragon brains tonight!”
Make it a point to enter work meetings, especially on Mondays, looking to infuse some laughter. You don’t have to be Will Ferrell. Just share a personal anecdote – something you saw or read that made you laugh. Could be calling out your own ineptitude in some area. It’s about connecting as humans before we connect as teammates. As Ron Burgundy says in Anchorman, “For just one night, let’s not be co-workers. Let’s be co-people.” Teams that laugh together build greater unity and trust. And teams with greater unity and trust perform better. Laugh together and your office will be more enjoyable and more productive.
When most people think about health, they focus on nutrition and exercise. Don’t forget about laughter. It may just be your quickest and most enjoyable way to positively impact your health. Take care of yourself by tapping your favorites sources for a good laugh often — from your favorite writer, filmmaker, comedian, site, or show, to your craziest co-worker or funniest friend. You’ll find your strength and energy grows when your laughter flows.
This article is excerpted and adapted from the book Life is Good by Bert and John Jacobs, published by National Geographic on September 1, 2015. Copyright © 2015 The Life is Good Company.