“Mommy, what’s wrong?”
“You never laugh anymore.”
My kids can read me like a book. I have heard these words several times. We all have stress, but when stress exists for long stretches of time, it can become the norm. And we become too serious for laughter. During those periods, a mom can forget how to laugh. And that is bad. In fact, it is probably worse than we think because it can affect our relationships.
When I think back on my favorite memories, so many of them are filled with laughter. Whether it’s with my kids or Mark or my friends, I’m most happy when I’m laughing so hard that I bend over, silent, tears streaming. The silent laugh is my deepest laugh. When my laugh goes silent, my family thinks it is hysterical and they start laughing. Thank goodness they have never videoed me in this mode or I’d probably never do it again because apparently, I look pretty comical.
What is it about laughter that leads to such shared moments? Scientists have studied the benefits of laughter and their findings reveal laughter is pretty powerful. So based on their findings, here are just a few reasons why we all need to make laughter a part of our daily lives.
1. Laughter Leads to Friendship
In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. ~Khalil Gibran
Laughing together creates a sense of safety and inclusion among people, allowing them to develop trust for one another. If your heart craves friendship, pursuing laughter should be one of your main goals. Sharing wit and humor is the perfect way to create trust in one another, and trust is a sure foundation for a wonderful friendship.
2. Laughter Leads to Strong Health
Most of you know of my struggle with heart problems starting with a cardiac arrest at 17. When I am stressed, my heart reacts, and while a half a dozen surgeries to control its fussy rate have improved it, stress can still be a trigger. Laughter relieves stress! Every day researchers are discovering new ways that laughter contributes to a healthy body. The benefits of laughter just keep growing. Not only does laughing increase your immune cells and improve your resistance to disease, they’ve even found that laughing 100 times is the same as spending 15 minutes on your exercise bike. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather laugh!
3. Laughter Leads to a Relaxed Home
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~William Thackeray
In each of our bodies, we have something like a gate that allows stress hormones to flow freely through us. But scientists have found that laughter is the magic key that locks the gate and keeps stress from entering our minds and hearts. And in more scientific terms, laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, chemicals in our bodies that promote an overall sense of well-being and reduce feelings of stress. Less stress means more peace and relaxation, and that the more relaxed we are, the more relaxed our kids will be. And I think kids are so much more stressed out today than when I was a child. Perhaps, it’s because we are more stressed out.
4. Laughter Leads to Joy
Humans have the tendency to bottle up emotions, especially negative ones. Then instead of expressing our grief, anger, irritation, etc. in healthy ways, we find ourselves exploding in tears or screams when we finally get pushed past our limits. Yet once again, researchers are finding that laughter is the ultimate remedy. One of the many benefits of laughter is that it offers us a way to release our negative emotions through humor. Choosing to laugh in the face of difficult situations means choosing to have joy.
Want to laugh more? Try out these 10 riddles on your kids.
Will you share ways your family has learned to laugh together? It might bring ideas to a mom in one of those stressed out stretches of life.