Our family four-pack is a happy bunch. We laugh early and often. We are a cheerful and jovial people. We sometimes get asked “What makes your family different? You seem to get along with your teenagers when so many parents struggle to connect with theirs. What’s your secret?” To which my husband replies, “I don’t know any of these people but they won’t leave.” And so it goes. (Har-har.)
But what we do do…(*snicker*) is laugh. We laugh A LOT. Our family cuts-up, cracks jokes and teases. We make up wacky stories about people we don’t know in the food court and we practice our funny voices. Voices, you wonder? We started out as ventriloquists for our dogs and it grew from there. We have fully developed, complicated conversations with our rescue mutts. Everyone in our family can “do” our dogs’ voices. It’s a requirement to live here and it’s a riot….at least to us it is.
You don’t stop laughing because you grow older, you grow older because you stop laughing. — Maurice Chevalier
Laughter Good for Your Mind
Laughter helps your brain because it’s hard to be mad when you’re laughing. Your mind interprets laughter as joy and we could all use more joy and positivity. Laughter is great for your memory for two distinct reasons. Firstly, laughter and the happiness it generates are recorded in your memory bank. When you think of what people say at funerals, people recount the times they laughed with that person. That’s what they miss. Secondly, no one has to die to get the benefits of laughter because it also helps with your memory recall. This is how inside jokes are born and subsequently remembered. When kids learn and understand your reference to something funny that happened a while ago put into the context of today’s joke, it’s good for their brain and memory power.
Laughter also keeps things in perspective. Shame dissolves away when you can laugh about your mistakes or shortcomings (better yet, other people’s mistakes or shortcomings) and helps strengthen your ability to handle the potholes in life’s roads. Also, our kids feel like they are growing up in a safe space to explore different forms of comedy. They build confidence while they are free to be creative in their unique style of humor. They learn what is socially appropriate in different situations. What’s funny at home, may not be funny elsewhere. You learn your audience.
Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. — Victor Hugo
Laughter Good for Your Body
Most of us know the benefits of laughter on the body. Laughter is the best medicine. But have you ever thought about why laughter is good for you? Laughter releases endorphins which give the body an overall positive, happy feeling. Many times this happens when you exercise but laughing is so much easier. Laughter reduces anxiety and stress hormones, relaxes your muscles and lowers your blood pressure. Laughter boosts your immune system and if you need another reason to skip the gym, laughter burns calories. (Not a lot of calories, but still.)
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. — William Thackeray
Laughter Good for Your Soul and Social Skills
Let’s face it; laughing with our family and friends is good for the soul and group bonding. It eases conflict and draws you together. Laughter strengthens relationships and it’s so contagious that soon everyone is laughing.
Laughter is beautiful since it has no accent. Laughter is universal. There are no age requirements nor preferred social status. Laughter is welcoming and inclusionary. However, laughing at the way someone sounds when they laugh is off limits. Your natural laugh is like your fingerprint — you cannot change your laugh without stifling, conscious work, so we’ve told our children that making fun of the way someone laughs is a not acceptable.
Do you chat or joke with cashiers, waitstaff or the people around you when you are waiting in line? My husband and I do this frequently and I believe it’s a great social benefit for the kids to see impromptu interaction with strangers. It teaches them the lesson of quick wit and keeps them on their toes since they can’t predict what the new person will say. Spontaneous conversation is a learned and underappreciated skill.
Laughter is an important part of our family’s life. Laughter is one of the most valued keys in our happy home. For us, laughter smooths out the jagged edges on a rough day and it brings us together when we feel separated by the busyness of life. Laughter is that special place on the bridge between us and the kids.