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Laughter Is Serious Business!

Laugh! It's Serious Business!

Knock, knock!

Who’s there?


Theodore who?

Theodore is stuck and it won’t open!

Q: Why do bicycles fall over?
A: Because they are two-tired!

Q: What did one snowman say to the other snowman?
A: Do you smell carrots?

But seriously, folks — laughing is no laughing matter. If you want to be healthy; if you want to be positively connected to others; if you want to be happy, you gotta laugh, laugh, laugh.

Why? Because:

  • Laughing is an antidote to depression, anxiety and tension. People who are able to see the humor in things generally have more optimism, more hope for the future, and less angst about the past.
  • Laughing can help us de-stress. When people laugh with a full-bellied guffaw, their muscles relax and their circulation gets stimulated. Laughing lowers levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.
  • Laughing helps us fight disease: When we ROFL (roll on the floor laughing), our blood vessels open up and the body is better able to fight off disease. Furthermore, some studies show that when people laugh, T cells, the cells that fight disease, get activated.
  • Laughing reduces your risk of stroke and heart attack. Believe it or not, hearty laughing is a good cardio workout. When we’ve had a good laugh, the whole cardiovascular system relaxes.
  • Laughing can help us manage pain and speed up the healing process. When we giggle, chuckle and laugh, our bodies release endorphins, the hormones that make us feel good.
  • Laughing brings us closer to people. Others are drawn to us, and we to them. When with other people, we’re all more likely to laugh out loud to share the fun. People who laugh easily and often are even found to be sexier by others.

Here, then are some reminders of how to add more laughter to your life:

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  1. Make a more fun environment. Make sure there are objects in your home that remind you of good times or that make you happy. Load a funny screensaver on your computer. Put things in your office that remind you of fun times and fun people. Change it up now and then so people who come into your office regularly get a new reason to smile.
  2. Smile. You know the saying: “Smile and the world smiles with you.” It’s true. Smile — even if you don’t feel like it. When we smile, people smile back which can make us feel better — and more smiley. It can become a wonderful positive upward spiral. The same goes for laughter. It’s contagious. People who laugh attract others who enjoy life.
  3. When you’re down, pretend to laugh. Yes, make yourself do it. It’s a funny thing (ha ha — I couldn’t resist): Even when people pretend to laugh, they often start laughing — even if it’s at first just because they feel a little foolish. Laughing tends to loosen us up and makes it possible to find humor even when life seems less than wonderful.
  4. Spend time with happy people. Research actually shows that happiness is contagious out to the third degree. That means that if your friends’ friends’ friends are happy, you will be happier, too. (By the way: The opposite is also true. People who mostly hang with unhappy people are more likely to get sick and gain unwanted weight.)
  5. Give other people a chance to share funny stories and observations. Often all it takes is asking. Not all conversations have to be deep and serious and meaningful. Sometimes the most meaningful things happen when people share the ideas and stories that make them happy.
  6. Come out to play. Post jokes on your Facebook page. Send funny sayings along with your emails. Initiate a little harmless mischief at your office. Skip down the street. Boogie down the hall. Find ways to put more humor and play into your life.
  7. Look for a dose of laughter several times a day. Read the comics in the newspaper. Watch a funny show. Go to a comedy movie. Get a ‘joke a day” service on your computer. Buy a joke a day calendar for your desk. Read a book that makes you laugh out loud.
  8. Get silly with your mate. Play harmless pranks. Tickle. Make faces. Be spontaneous. People who laugh together are drawn to each other. It may be a cliché but there’s a reason that lots of people specify on dating sites that they want to be with someone who can make them laugh.
  9. Goof around with your kids. Tell them knock-knock jokes. Make ridiculous puns. Poke them on Facebook. Cross your eyes. Have a funny face contest. Roll around on the grass. They’ll love you for it.
  10. When you get away, whether for a night or a long vacation, get yourself to a place where you will have fun! Go places and do things that make you happy and more likely to laugh. You’ll come back with a more relaxed body and mind.

One reminder: Laughter that’s at the expense of other people doesn’t count. Jokes that are hurtful, hateful or insensitive to others’ feelings may seem funny at the time, but they do nothing to increase your general sense of yourself as a decent person. It’s behavior that will only attract angry, cynical people. Yes, we need to laugh but we need to laugh for right reasons to have a good feeling that lasts.

That being said: Comedians say we should always leave ‘em laughing. So —

Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway.
One hat says to the other, “You stay here. I’ll go on a head.”

As far as I know, the jokes included here have been knock-knocking and hanging around the playground for a very long time. My apologies if I haven’t given credit where credit is due.

Laughter Is Serious Business!

Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

Marie Hartwell-WalkerDr. Marie Hartwell-Walker is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. She writes regularly for Psych Central as well as Psych Central's Ask the Therapist feature. She is author of the insightful parenting e-book, Tending the Family Heart.

Check out her book, Unlocking the Secrets of Self-Esteem.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, M. (2018). Laughter Is Serious Business!. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.