“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
Laughing is good for you even if it does begin with the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones.
Whether you are tickled or reacting to a good joke, at least seven different centers in the brain react in various ways. Your response begins with the release of stress hormones. Your normal breathing rhythm gets interrupted, and various neurotransmitters, including dopamine, are released. And, yes, your brain also interprets the tickle so that you cannot tickle yourself since your brain knows when your own fingers are involved. Scientists also believe that as you begin laughing, your saliva glands begin to secrete extra immune compounds. Antibodies and virus-killing T-cells are also released in larger doses. Your heartbeats also increase, and your blood pressure goes up to support the muscle spasms that result from your laugh. Those muscle spasms are actually a good aerobic exercise. In fact, one minute of a good laugh is said to be as good as ten minutes of exercise on a rowing machine!
Besides promoting social bonds, laughing is indeed good for you in many ways. Tickling is a common way that parents bond with their young children. And wholesome humor can cheer the heart and raise the spirits. Moreover, while laughing appears to have no evolutionary advantage, it is easily explained as a gift of God to raise our spirits.
Father, I thank You for the gift of laughter. Help me to use humor and laughing in a wholesome way. Amen.
Discover, 4/03, pp. 62-69, Steve Johnson, “Laughter.” Photo: Courtesy of Galawebdesign. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.