Disadvantages Of Laughing
- Protrusion of abdominal hernias — side-splitting laughter or laughing fit to burst.
- A quick intake of breath during laughing can cause foreign bodies to be inhaled.
- Trigger for asthma attacks.
When you hear someone laugh behind you, you probably picture them on the phone or with a friend – smiling and experiencing a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Chances are just the sound of the laughter could make you smile or even laugh along.
But imagine that the person laughing is just walking around alone in the street, or sitting behind you at a funeral. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so inviting. The truth is that laughter isn’t always positive or healthy. According to science, it can be classified into different types, ranging from genuine and spontaneous to simulated (fake), stimulated (for example by tickling), induced (by drugs) or even pathological. But the actual neural basis of laughter is still not very well known – and what we do know about it largely comes from pathological clinical cases.
Laughing and Smiling
Smiles are most often connected to a positive experience, while laughing is related to something unexpected, but not necessarily positive. And while smiling and laughing can be faked, their most natural cause comes from humour. In fact, the difference between smiling and laughing is similar to the difference between humour and comedy.
Laughing is generally evoked by something being funny (aka comedy) – a joke or story that sets an expectation and then breaks it. Humour, which can be funny, can also just elicit positive emotions – often signalled by smiling. Laughter is a social phenomenon. That’s why ‘getting the giggles’ never happens when we are alone. In contrast, people often smile when they are reading or even when they are having private thoughts.”
A human being laughs when his face feels uncomfortable, even when he is experiencing the warmest emotional state, like when he is laughing with a friend.
When you smile, your facial muscles have the job of “contorting” your facial expressions to show people your emotional state. We smile when we are happy, feel love, fear, sadness or anger. It also means that your mood can change immediately, which makes it very attractive to others. A warm, smiling face is much more positive than a droopy, sad one.
If you smile while someone is speaking to you, the expression is also your signal that you are engaged in the conversation. Scientists suggest that a kind smile is an effective indicator that you like someone’s company.
Another reason for people to smile is to keep their teeth clean.
The Physical and Emotional Impact of Laughter
Stress relief from laughter
A good sense of humour can't cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Laughter isn't just a quick pick-me-up, though. It's also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:
Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your stress, depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier. It can also improve your self-esteem.
Improve Your Sense Of Humor
Are you afraid that you have an underdeveloped — or nonexistent — sense of humour? No problem. Humor can be learned. In fact, developing or refining your sense of humour may be easier than you think.
Put humour on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos, greeting cards or comic strips, that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office, or collect them in a file or notebook. Keep funny movies, TV shows, books, magazines or comedy videos on hand for when you need an added humour boost. Look online at joke websites or silly videos. Listen to humorous podcasts. Go to a comedy club.
Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
Consider trying laughter yoga. In laughter yoga, people practise laughter as a group. Laughter is forced at first, but it can soon turn into spontaneous laughter.
Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
Knock, knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library's selection of joke books and add a few jokes to your list that you can share with friends.
Know what isn't funny. Don't laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humour aren't appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad or hurtful one.
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
Go ahead and give it a try. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you've had your chuckle, take stock of how you're feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant? That's the natural wonder of laughing at work.
Although laughter is a healthy bodily response when a person laughs while in pain, the physiology is clearly reversed. Iodine, a so-called “brake” hormone, is released in the stomach, the small intestine and the intestine wall. But laughter itself is not a driving force, it is just a trigger for it.
It is the movement of the esophagus that is responsible for the sensation of pain and, sometimes, nausea. On the other hand, the production of the hormone serotonin occurs in the brain, mainly in the frontal lobe, to give rise to feelings of well-being and relaxation. Laughter is therefore a response of the body to the mind.
Types of Laughter and What They Mean
You've probably heard some motherly person say, “It isn't polite to laugh at others' expense.”
That probably hasn't always stopped you, either. Let's face it: Whether you were a bully in school or the kid getting picked on, you've found yourself breaking this rule at some point.
We may think of cruel laughter as insensitive and out of touch today, but it's been around for a long time [source: Morreall]. In the late Middle Ages, for instance, there's a record of residents buying a condemned criminal from a different town just so they could enjoy quartering him themselves [source: Morreall].
Add to that derisive laughter's place in ancient texts. It appears several times in Homer's “Iliad” and even in the Bible [source: Morreall].
No, the next type of laughter on our list isn't something you can find on a grocery store isle. Canned laughter is another term for what's commonly referred to as the “laugh track.”
Canned laughter is real laughter — it just happens to be laughter taken completely out of one context and placed in another [source: Farnham].
Because of laughter's social connection, television producers understand that placing canned laughter over the soundtrack to programming increases the chance of an audience finding humour in the material — or at least laughing in response to it [source: Farnham].
Of course, the laughter has to “sound” genuine to the audience; humans can quickly tell the difference between genuine and fake laughter.
When you aren't actively trying to practice the art of silent laughter, odds are some kind of sound will occur when something strikes your funny bone. Most laughter is, after all, a string of vocal ha-has or ho-hos.
But what if you're one of the roughly 25 percent of women or 33 percent of men who laugh through the nose? Then you'd be a snorter [source: Vanderbilt].
We all knew the kid in elementary school, the one who blew milk out his nose when the class clown cracked jokes in the cafeteria. You can guess his kind of laughter.
If this is your kind of laughter, you're either blowing air out or sucking it in through the nose when you laugh. There's nothing wrong with this — but you may want to drink in sips for those times when your friends try to catch you off guard with a new joke.
Say you're out for a walk with a friend when something falls from the sky: pigeon droppings. You're splattered, but your friend is untouched. This event is anything but funny to you, yet your friend can't stop laughing. Is this pigeon laughter?
Not quite, unless your friend is laughing in a very specific way. Pigeon laughter, which is often practiced in laughter therapy or laughter yoga, involves laughing without opening your mouth. By keeping your lips sealed, the laughter produces a humming sound, much like the noises a pigeon makes.
It's also been compared to the humming of bees, so if you're still angry at those darn pigeons for dropping poop on you, feel free to call it bees' laughter.
Let's face it, life can be tough sometimes. Whether you're on a tight deadline with the boss breathing down your neck or you're sitting in rush-hour traffic and your car's A/C is on the fritz, the end of a workday doesn't mean everything's peachy keen. Are our muscles still tight? It's a sign you're still carrying the stress of the day.
Stress is one of the most important reasons to find something humorous. Laughter is a sure cure for stress [source: Van Dyk].
Stress builds tension in the human body, and that tension has to go somewhere. Usually, it's the muscles.
So what to do? Yes, you could get a massage, but have you ever considered a good laugh? Stress-relieving laughter can encompass many forms, but it's usually found in an outburst, much like belly laughing.
At the end of a long day, you find yourself in the elevator with your boss. Instead of talking up your latest accomplishments, though, you find yourself laughing at everything he says.
Though you may think you sounded like a fool, you probably did just fine. People rely on laughter to get along with others, so whether we're with our boss or friends, we tend to laugh at things that just aren't funny.
In a study of laughter episodes, Provine found that people tend to laugh at perfectly bland statements like “Can I join you?” or “See you later” [source: Provine]. Laughter could have developed in our ancestors before full speech, so sound is merely a way to communicate and show agreement.
And if you're trying to ascend the corporate ladder, you're not the only one laughing at the boss. We tend to laugh with anyone who can help us out, which is why a group of undergraduate students may guffaw at a professor's bad joke, while a job applicant's attempts at humour may fall flat with those who are already gainfully employed.
Imagine you're out for dinner with a group of friends. Someone tells a joke and gets one person laughing, which gets a second person laughing, and so on. Is catching laughter like catching a cold? It's very likely.
Provine, the laughter researcher, found in one experiment that nearly half of his 128 undergraduate students giggled on first response to a simulated laugh [source: Provine]. And they did this despite knowing the source to be an artificial laugh-simulator.
According to Provine, contagious laughter raises the possibility that humans have laugh detectors. In other words, people are made to respond with laughter on hearing laughter itself, much like the mystery of spreading a yawn [source: Provine].
There are times when we need to project dignity and control, like during presentations to the CEO or during a funeral. Unfortunately, these are the times when uncontrollable nervous laughter is likely to strike.
During times of anxiety, we often laugh in a subconscious attempt to reduce stress and calm down. However, nervous laughter usually just heightens the awkwardness of the situation.
Nervous laughter is often considered fake laughter, to the point that a 1909 article in the New York Times advised women to stop this kind of laughter immediately. The article, which recommended spanking young girls who were developing such a bad habit, told women that once they broke themselves of nervous laughter, they would wonder how people even stood their company before [source: New York Times].
Belly laughter is considered the most honest type of laughter. It may also be the hardest type to experience, because we have to find something truly hilarious before we'll let go with the kind of laughter that has us clutching our bellies and gasping for air.
Of course, that's not the only description for true belly laughter; as you might guess, we all laugh differently. In a study conducted by Vanderbilt University, researchers found that men are more likely to grunt or snort at something they find funny, while women let loose with giggles and chuckles [source: Vanderbilt].
It's good to take note of what tickles your funny bone, however, because it just might save your life. In the 1979 book, “Anatomy of an Illness,” Norman Cousins writes of how he used laughter to fight an illness that doctors told him was near incurable.
Cousins wrote, “Ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep” [source: McCarthy]. Cousins turned to the Marx Brothers and “Candid Camera” and experienced a full recovery.
Those of us who work in cubicles may think that silent laughter is a skill we've perfected so that we can look at funny Web sites and videos at work. Mindfully practicing silent laughter, though, can have real benefits because it involves the same type of deep breathing that comes with belly laughter.
One woman who works as a clown in a children's hospital explained to Canadian Living that teaching sick kids the art of silent laughter enabled them to go back to sleep after waking up from a bad dream [source: Van Dyk]. The children got the calming benefits of the rhythmic exhalations without waking up any roommates.
This type of laughter is also practiced in laughter yoga and laughter therapy, where it's often called joker's laughter. To try it on your own, freeze your face into a smile like the Joker of Batman fame, then let your belly do the work of pushing air in and out as if you were laughing out loud.
There is no need to be afraid of laughter. Laughter can be a part of an enjoyable and positive life experience. However, as explained, the kind of laughter that we are most familiar with is a social type of laughter. The laughter that is spontaneous and without cause is called trivial laughter.
Other types of laughter include psychogenic laughter (the kind that comes from the real cause, but is based on the emotional response to the tittering), mimicry and parasocial laughter. The ‘parasocial’ kind of laughter is based on the assumption that someone we know is actually laughing with us, even though he or she is far away. This type of laughter is very common in social isolation. It’s called delusional laughter.
Laughter And Mental Health
We all know that laughter isn’t just a social activity, but that there are different physiological reactions to it too. One such reaction is the increase in epinephrine (adrenaline) in the blood, causing a temporary rush of energy and a rapid heart rate, and a drop in blood pressure.
This increases the blood flow to the brain, heightening the senses and making it easier to identify and interpret social situations. Laughter can also prompt increased movements of muscles in the face and body, resulting in increased facial expression. Many individuals who experience hallucinations have believed that they are actually laughing or that their lips are moving.
Having a good sense of humour has numerous long-term and short-term mental health benefits.
Short-term mental health benefits of humour. Laughing automatically triggers positive physical and mental changes that help to relax your mind. The short-term benefits of laughter include:
Organ stimulation: A good laugh improves your intake of the oxygen-rich air. This, in turn, stimulates organs such as the heart, lungs, and muscles. Your brain also releases endorphins — hormones that cause a feeling of pleasure and a relaxed mind.
Stress relief: Laughing activates your body’s stress response mechanism. This process changes your heart rate leaving you in high spirits.
Relief from tension: Laughter also stimulates rapid blood circulation. When this happens, you may experience a calming sensation that takes away tension and stress.
Every person has a sense of humour and laughter is an integral part of our social interaction. In many cultures, laughter is thought to be a sign of happiness and is widely accepted as a sign of affection. But while our social relationships can be both enjoyable and stimulating, this may not be the case for everyone.
Yes, it’s great to have a conversation with someone who knows how to make you laugh, but it’s not so great to be made to feel depressed and lonely just because of their funny bone. If we don’t control what makes us laugh, that’s a sure sign of loss of control in our lives. If we don’t laugh because it makes us feel happy, then we’re simply not really laughing at all.
I trust you enjoyed this article about the Disadvantages Of Laughing. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly.
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