21 Jan The Positive Effects of Laughing and Smiling
Laughter is a powerful tool to accentuate positivity, create happiness and infuse optimism to bring about hope and propensity for life and living.
The ability to laugh and smile is an innate human experience. Many children start to play with their smiles within their first six weeks of life – sometimes all day long, but especially when they’re well fed, happy and encouraged by those around them.
Smiling is a child’s first language that evolves into laughter between four and 10 weeks of age. Children laugh instinctively to indulge in fun and play, and to radiate and receive love.
German psychologist and pioneer of humour therapy Dr Michael Titze points out that studies have found that children can laugh up to 300-400 times a day, but by the time they’re adults it reduces to less than 15 times a day, if at all.
Encouraging your child to enjoy the gift of laughter is fun; parents need to laugh themselves and establish a connection between body and mind.
When a child grows up with happiness, cheerfulness and lots of laughter, that child is happy.
Their smiles and laughter, once established, stay with them throughout adolescence, adulthood and old age.
Indian physician and founder of the Laughter Yoga Clubs movement Dr Madan Kataria says, “Laughter influences more than just our mental framework; it has positive physical benefits as well”.
The Benefits of Laughter
- Laughter strengthens the immune system. Psychoneuroimmunologists have proved negative emotions weaken the immune system, while positive emotions make it stronger. According to Dr Lee Berk from Loma Linda University in California, laughter helps to increase the count of natural-killer cells and raises the antibody levels in the body.
- Bouts of laughter reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and trigger the flow of endorphins from the brain, which relaxes the whole body and increases a sense of wellbeing. Laughter is an antidote to anxiety, anger, irritation and depression, and induces good sleep.
- A good belly laugh – or ‘internal jogging’– boosts vital organs by enriching the circulatory system with oxygen, helping filter the lymphatic system and strengthen the muscles and organs of the respiratory system.
- Laughter is an effective form of aerobic exercise. Dr William Fry of Stanford University in California claims laughter is a whole-body experience; one minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine.
Life is full of surprises and parenting can be challenging. Laughter is a free, therapeutic tool that can help you create a happy and positive family environment.
Mahes Karuppiah-Quillen is a naturopath and accredited laughter coach and trainer. She is a pioneering advocate of holistic health and is widely noted for being Malaysia’s first laughter therapist. Visit Health Fountain for more information.
Words by M. K-Quillen (first published in 2012)