Laughter and the Joys of Having a Sense of Humor

Joy of Laughter

Don Minkoff, LCSW

In the movie Singing in the Rain there are athletic dance scenes that Gene Kelly was famous for. There is the famous scene of Gene Kelly dancing in the rain to the movie’s theme song, Singing in the Rain. However, the scene that comes to my mind is Donald O’Conner dancing while singing the song, Make ‘Em Laugh. In this scene Gene Kelly is despondent about his career. Donald O’Conner reacts to him by singing about the benefits of laughter while flying around a set, wrestling with a mannequin and flying through a wall. What did the writers of this 1952 musical, Adolph Green, Betty Comden and Arthur Freed, know that research is teaching us about the effect of humor and laughter today?

Laughter has been shown to stabilize blood pressure, stimulate circulation, assist digestion, increase the supply of oxygen to the blood, decrease muscle tension, strengthen the immune system and stimulate hormones that relieve pain. Laughter and humor relieves stress, improve depression and decrease anger. Humor and laughter can help overcome fear and gain confidence. Humor enhances relationships by providing a means of expression for people to connect.

Ok, so what does all this mean? Investing more humor and laughter into one’s day-to-day life creates perspective when dealing with daily problems. Humor enhances emotional and physical health, and when used to laugh with, and not at, doesn’t hurt relationship, either.

Here are suggestions to increase your sense of humor:
• Give yourself permission to stop and take time to laugh.
• Spend more time around people who are good laughers. Don’t feel guilty about your own laughter.
• Learn what makes you laugh and enjoy yourself. Listen to comedy audio tapes when driving, read comedy books and articles, watch comedies and go to performances by comedians.
• Don’t stop yourself from laughing at those laughable moments. However, be aware of when laughter is appropriate and how the people you are with will react to the humor and/or laughter.

It has, also, been suggested that fake laughter when one is anxious, depressed or angry, will have a positive effect on how you feel. There is a Yiddish proverb that states, “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” So go ahead, make ‘em laugh.


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