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7 Research-Based Reasons to Laugh Every Chance You Get

Take advantage of emerging benefits for your mind, body, and social life.

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

Source: Solominviktor/Shutterstock

Everyone enjoys a good laugh, but who actually makes time for laughter in their lives? Sure, we enjoy hearing a funny joke, being around people with a good sense of humor, and watching comedies. But few of us take our laughs seriously (no pun intended) nor do we make a concerted effort to laugh more.

But we should.

The science of laughter—though still preliminary—suggests that it has tremendous benefits for our health and psychological well-being. Here are just seven from this emerging research:

  1. Laughter improves your relationships. Research shows that laughter makes you more open to new people and helps you build and strengthen relationships.
  2. Laughter boosts your memory and lowers your stress. A study showed that laughter can sharpen your ability to remember things while also reducing the stress hormone cortisol, especially in older people.
  3. Laughter 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. Laughter improves your health. For example, one study of 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 because you were anticipating the ending? Another study suggests that just anticipating a funny event boosts immune function while decreasing stress-related hormones.
  5. Laughter makes you a better learner. When we are trying to learn something new, we're usually pretty serious but research shows that a good laugh while learning new material will help you engage with it more.
  6. Laughter makes you attractive. A recent study confirms that humor and playfulness are highly valued traits in potential romantic partners.
  7. Laughter helps you make the world a better place. Why? It's contagious, at least on the level of the brain, according to research by Sophie Scott.
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