Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Social Benefits of Laughter
- strengthens relationships
- helps defuse conflict
- boosts mood
- boosts teamwork
- attracts others to us
Intuitively we know that laughter is one of the best tools we have for dealing with stress, and science backs that up. In fact, research into laughter goes even further, revealing that it’s a potent drug with the contagious power of a virus that conveys a slew of benefits for the mind and body. Below are findings that should keep us wanting to laugh it up.
Laughter is a potent endorphin releaser. One of the most recent studies on laughter shows that laughing with others releases endorphins in the brain—our homegrown feel-good chemicals—via opioid receptors. The more opioid receptors a given person has in their brain, the more powerful the effect. Highly addictive opioid drugs, like heroin, also bind to those receptors, suggesting that laughter induces euphoria not unlike a narcotic (minus the obvious drawbacks).
Laughter contagiously forms social bonds. The endorphin effect described above also explains why social laughter is so contagious. Spreading endorphin release through groups promotes a sense of togetherness and safety. Each brain in a social unit is a transmitter of those feelings, which triggers the feel-goods in other brains via laughter. It’s like a game of endorphin dominoes. That’s why when someone starts laughing, others will laugh even if they’re not sure what everyone is laughing about.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted” – Charlie Chaplin