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Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Steps to Happiness: Laughter


tumblr_ml351tJdit1r4x0u7o1_500Proverbs 17:22 claims that “a cheerful heart is good medicine.” Today we can prove that as true. No one can deny that a life filled with laughter is likely a happy life, but now we have evidence to back it up.

Researchers have proven that laughter boosts happiness levels while reducing stress. Regular humor gives instant and long-lasting benefits. Scientists hypothesize this is because laughter causes a surge of hypocretin, the neurotransmitter that regulates things like sleep, appetite, and joy.

Laughter has been a topic of study and debate since ancient times. Plato and Aristotle both wrote about the powerful effects of humor. Fearing laughter’s influence over the masses, they cautioned against letting comedies propagate unseemly behavior or undermining authority. Plato’s contemporary Stoics also agreed that giving into the impulse to laugh diminished one’s self-control.

Today, however, people generally take a more positive outlook. Many have concluded that humor isn’t an escapist outlet, but it allows one to cope with life’s stressors in a positive way. And researchers have found that laughter produces a variety of social, physiological, and emotional benefits:

  • Lowers stress, anxiety, and depression 
  • Helps manage pain and blood pressure
  • Increases self-esteem, resilience, energy, and endorphine
  • Reinforces social bonds and group identity
  • Increase personal satisfaction

Honestly, the list can go on and on. But a regular dose of genuine laughter in your life certainly seems to bring little harm, and a lot of good.

To promote the profits of laughter, we leave you to meditate upon Jimmy Fallon’s Chickeneers:

 

Next: Lifestyle

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Author: Sara Kenning

Sustainability Assistant at Seattle Pacific University's Office of Facility and Project Management

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