A few years ago, I took a standup comedy course that was quite fascinating. Our homework included analyzing each day to discover what was humorous about it. Some days it was easy and other days it was hard but just having to do this exercise led to a habit of not taking life so seriously. It was great!

When the course finished, I started to slowly forget to look at life with humor. I mean, life got busy and other things began to take priority. So I recently decided to remind myself by creating a “Laughter Journal.” Every day, I record my humorous thoughts and try to surround myself with things and people that make me laugh.

The benefits of laughter are enormous. Just look at the following statistics that will prove my point.

1. Laughter could help prevent heart disease. According to research by Dr. Michael Miller, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School, watching a stressful movie can cause blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood flow whereas watching a funny movie can cause the blood vessels to expand.

2. Laughter can increase your pain threshold. Why? A good belly laugh releases endorphins, which in turn makes you feel great! Research led by Oxford University discovered that watching just 15 minutes of comedy could increase your pain threshold by approximately 10 percent.

3. Laughter can lower your blood sugar levels. Research conducted by Japanese doctors included participants with type 2 diabetes as well as participants with no history of diabetes. They began the study by eating a meal and then watching a boring lecture. Glucose levels were tested immediately afterwards. The next day they ate a meal but this time watched a comedy that aroused quite a bit of laughter. Test results showed that both the diabetics and the non-diabetics had lower glucose levels after watching the comedy.

4. Laughter can strengthen the immune system. Research led by Dr. Lee Berk of the Loma Linda University, discovered that the levels of three stress hormones were reduced and the levels of two beneficial chemical/hormones were increased with just the anticipation of laughter.

5. Laughter can burn calories. Dr. Maciej Buchowski, Vanderbilt University, conducted a study that revealed ten to fifteen minutes of laughter could burn ten to forty calories per day. What’s not to love about that?

In The Magic of Think®, we help children look at life humorously by using stories, music, and activities that encourage laughter and build courage. We believe emotional and mental strength is just as important as IQ.
“Laughter is an instant vacation.” Milton Berle

Janyse Jaud is an award-winning singer/songwriter, voiceover actress, author, and thinkologist working with clients such as Hasbro, Warner Bros., Marvel, Discovery, and The Cartoon Network. www.themagicofthink.com

European Society of Cardiology (ESC) (2011, August 29). Laughter has positive impact on vascular function. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 11, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/08/110828101806.htm

University of Oxford, (2011, Sept 14) Laughter’s the best medicine. http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2011/111409_1.html

American Diabetes Association, (2003, May) http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/5/1651.full

American Physiological Society, (2008, April) http://www.the-aps.org/mm/hp/Audiences/Public-Press/For-the-Press/releases/Archive/08/10.html

Vanderbilt University (2005, June) http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/reporter/index.html?ID