Researchers at Stanford showed comics to people while their brains were monitored by an MRI. They were able to prove for the first time that humor stimulates the parts of our brain that use the “feel good” chemical messenger dopamine. That puts laughter in the category of activities you want to do over and over again.
Face Time: When we laugh, as many as 15 small muscles squeeze our faces into a smile. Increased blood flow there may turn us a bit pinker and give us a happy glow.
Eyes Have It: If the laugh is vigorous enough, our tear ducts can activate. If the laugh is long enough we’re literally crying with joy-and studies show that tears, whether happy or sad, may reduce symptoms of stress.
Mouth Off: Researchers have tested the saliva of patients after laughing episodes and found that they have higher levels of disease-fighting immuno-globulins along with higher blood levels of killer T-cells, suggesting that laughter may raise our immune function.
Vocal Point: Our vocal equipment gets a workout to produce our laughter. The diaphragm, a strong muscle under the lungs, pumps down and up, filling the lungs, and then blasting air out of them, up through the voice box to produce the laugh. Because the lungs are exchanging much more air than normal, they enrich the blood with oxygen.
Laughter seems to have an analgesic effect: It increases our tolerance for pain.
Belly Laughs causes us tense all our major muscle groups for minutes at a time, leading to a simple conclusion: Laughter is exercise. The heart rate and blood pressure go up while you’re laughing, but then they fall down below your baseline afterward, the same as with exercise. I guess you could say, “Laughter is inner jogging.”
It seems researchers simply confirm what the Lord has already told us. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
Laugh with a friend today. It is good for you.