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Laughter key for a better life

by The Western News
| November 17, 2011 10:35 AM

More than 50 years of research backs up the fact that positive social connections improve health outcomes and laughing is part of the equation.

If you admire people who age gracefully, you may have noticed they smile easily and seem to radiate a joy for life, even though they probably face an assortment of life’s ups and downs.

There is no doubt about it — laughter makes you feel good, but research has shown it also helps boost immunity, relax muscles, decrease pain, ease anxiety and relieve stress.

Think of laughter as “internal jogging.” Laughter causes positive changes in brain chemistry by releasing endorphins, and it brings more oxygen into the body with the deeper inhalations caused by laughing.

Keep in mind, laughter is more than just a temporary mood booster. It is a powerful tool that helps us find new sources of meaning and hope.

It gives us strength in difficult times, and connects us to others.

These are some ways you can treat yourself to daily doses of good humor:

• Hang out with positive “kids” of all ages—friends and family members from young to old, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren;

• Surround yourself with reminders, there is a lighter side to life;

• Put a funny cartoon somewhere visible in your home where you start your day;

• Watch a funny movie or TV show;

• Play with a pet;

• Read the funnies.

Positive emotions can reduce health risks.

So go ahead, create as many microseconds as possible of happiness-related chemistry.

Laugh and you will improve your physical, mental and social health.