Health Benefits of Humor

Topics: Laughter, Health, Humour Pages: 5 (1610 words) Published: December 3, 2013
Andrew J. Nicholson 1,581 words English 102: Section 33
December 3, 2013
Essay #3


Ever since I can remember, I have always enjoyed to make myself and others laugh. Humor has always played an important role in my life as it was key in helping me develop my personality and outlook on life through childhood. What I did not realize however, was why or how it made me feel better about myself. For this research paper, I wanted to find out just exactly how humor affects us in our day to day lives, and whether or not it played a key role in having a longer, more enjoyable life. From my research, I found many different ways that humor can influence our emotions and physical health. Everyone enjoys a good laugh every now and then, but is there more to it than that? How does it affect our bodies in various ways from everyday to 50 years from now? What are the true benefits of humor?

There are many positive health effects related to a humor-filled life. According to an article entitled "Laughter is the Best Medicine" by Melinda Smith and Jeanne Segal, there are physical benefits in our response to humor in our every day lives. These benefits are split into two different sections: short-term and long-term. One example of the short-term benefits of humor would be that laughter induces relaxation. It gets many muscles moving in your body. One reason muscles get tense is lack of oxygen flow. Once you laugh as a response to humor, it increases the flow of oxygen to the muscles resulting in a more relaxed, more energy-filled body. Another short-term benefit is that laughter causes pain and stress relief. This is achieved by intense stimulation of organs in the body Nicholson 2

which leads to increased circulation and blood flow. As for the long-term effects, they can be just as rewarding. For example, one thing laughter can do in the long run is improve the overall health of the heart. This happens because, like stated earlier, laughter increases blood flow. Since the heart is the organ that regulates all blood flow in the body, naturally the vessels and arteries in and around the heart become strengthened and use to increased stimulation. One last long-term benefit from humor is that it can reduce stress levels and boost the immune system. It was concluded that this is possible because negative thoughts turn into chemical reactions in the body by bringing more stress into your system and therefore decreasing your immunity (In contrast, positive thoughts (like those caused from experiencing humor) release neuropeptides that help fight stress hormones (Smith, Segal 2013).

It's fascinating to see how humor can affect our bodies physically, but it can also do all kinds of things for us mentally. These effects can also be split into short-term and long-term. In an article called "Humor, Laughter, and Physical Health" by Rod Martin, it was found that for short-term, laughter releases excess endorphins which gives us a sense of calm and well-being. It also helps take our minds off things that might be troubling us. The long-term mental effects of humor are some of the key aspects of how to lead a happier life. One example is that consistently being around humor shifts our perspectives towards life. This allows us to see life in a more realistic, less threatening light. Living a humor-filled life also allows you to be able to deal and handle with stressful situations or events more easily (Martin 2002).

The last way humor can affect our lives positively is from the social benefits related to it. In his book The How of Happiness, Sonjay Lyubomirsky states that shared laughter is one of the most effective ways for keeping friendships fun and exciting. Laughter adds joy to our relationships. It also helps mend our bonds and heal resentments or disagreements. Humor...

Cited: Bollinger, Caroline. "Test for Laughs." Prevention 57.2 (2005): 56. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.
Cann , Arnie . "Humor Styles, Positive Personality, and Health ." Europe 's Journal of Psychology 181.2 (2010): 213-235. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Nov. 2013.
Lefcourt, Herbert. Humor and Life Stress. New York: Springer, 1986. Print.
Lyubomirsky, Sonjay . The How of Happiness. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.
Martin, Rod. "Humor, Laughter, and Physical Health." Psychological Bulletin 127.4. (2001): 504-519. Skynet. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.
Smith, Melinda , and Jeanne Segal. "Laughter is the Best Medicine." Help Guide 50.1 (2013): 12. Help Guide. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.
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