Is laughter a cure all?

We all love a good laugh and laughter has been attributed with a great number of benefits. It relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity.

Apparently some research seems to indicate that children laugh up to 400 times a day, yet by the time we turn 35, we laugh only 15 times per day. The research seems a tad difficult to track down, but assuming the numbers tally up laughing 95% less must be detrimental to our health. A German study seems to indicate that adults laugh less now days than they used to in the past. Why would that be? Could it be due to reduced social interactions due to our addiction to TV, internet and smart phones? Or is it our obsession with focusing on negative news?

There are stories about people laughing away their cancers, mothers laughing with their children to reduce the incidence of respiratory tract infections, and laughter therapy associations. It seems in the darkest times is when we need to laugh the most, but that is also the time it is hardest to summon hilarity.

The rationale behind this magic cure is not clear. Perhaps it is increased respiration or blood flow air the suppression of cortisol. I guess it doesn’t really matter, the mere fact that most cultures seem to have some sort of proverb linking laughter with health would indicate that there is something to it.

My plan is to make sure that I at least get up to 10% of my former laughing self. 40 laughs a day, assuming a 16 hour day, that is only 2.5 laughs an hour… seems easy. Perhaps I’ll even shoot for 5 laughs. A little crazy I know, but if it makes me healthier, cleverer, less stressed, more collaborative and more productive, it should be worth it!

Read related article on HBR


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