The dictionary’s definition of laughter is ‘an expression or appearance of merriment or amusement,’ but to me it is a great deal more than that. In my opinion, laughter is a crucial part of life, a necessity and the key to true happiness. It is not just ‘an expression,’ it defines who you are.
Laughter is music to people’s ears; it fills us with light and drains our hidden pain. The ability to laugh is a durable gift that never loses value. Precious. Do we cherish it enough?
‘Laughter is the best medicine.’ A common expression, but do you really agree?
I believe that laughter is like a drug, it is addictive and it has the ability to cure many different types of pain. Many scientists worldwide have researched the use of laughter as a treatment and there is sufficient evidence to prove that this is in fact true.
Studies have been performed in labs in university’s the world over; volunteers have examined how people react when laughter is used to treat things like stress. For example, Lee Berk: a professor of family medicine and researcher in complementary and alternative medicine, decided to lead a study in America.
Berk and his team tested sixteen men who all agreed to watch a certain video that they all found funny. The findings were pretty incredible. After watching the video, levels of a stress hormone called cortisol fell by 39%, adrenaline fell 70%, endorphins (the feel-good hormone) rose 27% and finally the growth hormone levels climbed 87%.
This study proved that laughing, finding something funny, can make helpful changes in the level of hormones involved in stress and lower blood pressure.
Endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller and these are released when triggered by smiling or laughing. Laughter has also been proven to reduce the risk of heart attacks and improve your general health. I think that even if laughter is not classed as a medicine, it does the job of making you feel better.
Even if it is just a distraction from how you really feel- it still makes a difference. If I am upset or feeling under stress I always know there will be someone there to make me feel better by making me laugh; helpful when dealing with this type or situation.
It is a powerful tool and has a different effect on different people. Senses of humour vary but in the end it is something we all have in common, we can all laugh and we enjoy it.
What about the laugh itself?
Everyone’s laugh is unique; they are all slightly different, from giggles to guffaws and from chuckles to cackles. They stick with you no matter what. It is a part of you that you can’t change and something you can be recognised by;
- If you tend to snort this is said to mean that you are snobby and are expressing disapproval.
- Sniggering means that you are insensitive, unsympathetic and immature.
- Cackling is loud and usually means that you enjoy the misfortune of others.
- Chuckling, however, means you are kind and thoughtful and a good belly-laugh means you are open and trustworthy.
- Lastly: giggling. This little one usually means you are nervous.
It is up to you whether you agree with these statements. Personally, I think that saying that each laugh means exactly that, is too general. Yes, your laugh does say something about you but I don’t think it means the same for everyone.
My laugh has tended to change slightly over time but I am always recognised for having a loud, cackling laugh which has a very distinctive sound.
According to the list, cackling laugh is supposed to mean that you enjoy the misfortune of others which is certainly wrong for me; I am not that type of person, I’m actually very caring towards others and enjoy making others happy, so maybe everyone’s individual laugh has a different meaning, dependant on their life situation and state of happiness in general.
Can I laugh now?
We have all been in that situation, you know the one, when you’re not supposed to laugh but it just comes out.
Some people suffer from something called nervous laughter, they might hear bad news and even though they are upset inside, on the outside they cannot help but laugh.It can be quite dangerous at times, laughing when it’s extremely inappropriate and possibly hurting a person’s feelings.
Another case is when you watch a friend trip and fall, and your first reaction should be to make sure they are okay but instead you burst out laughing and you cannot stop.
Personally the one I find the worst is when you are in a formal environment and the room is in complete silence, you know you are not allowed to laugh but you try your best to hold it in. There are some social environments like funerals and Christenings, when of course it is inappropriate to laugh and it is frowned upon to do so, but should there really be rules for something so natural?
Even though I think that laughter is exceptionally important, I also think that there should be some boundaries. Without these boundaries, people could go around making offensive jokes and having a good laugh at others’ expense.
These jokes could be racist, sexist, insulting to the disabled or elderly. Jokes can be harmful as well as hilarious and you need to know where the line is. On television there are restrictions on words and phrases that the entertainers can’t say in case the viewers at home are offended. It is good to have some restrictions in place because it is morally wrong to make jokes that are offensive towards certain groups of people.
There must be rules to stop this; as a society we appear to be clear on the physical ones – and a little fuzzy on the moral ones.
Laughter is important and should be valued. I believe that laughter is also a necessity.
Laughter is the language of the soul, and it should be expressed as often as possible. There are even health benefits to just having a joke around, so let’s stop worrying about what it sounds like and take advantage of such a beautiful part of life (provided we are not at a funeral).
An essay on laughter by my daughter when she was age 14
The Benefits of Laughter Therapy Yoga…