The Power of Laughter, Humor, and Play
Laughter has a powerful effect on your health and well-being. A good laugh relieves tension and stress, elevates mood, enhances creativity and problem-solving ability, and provides a quick energy boost. But even more importantly, laughter brings people together. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships—as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.
Playful communication helps you:
- Connect to others. Your health and happiness depend, to a large degree, on the quality of your relationships—and laughter binds people together.
- Smooth over differences. Using gentle humor often helps you broach sensitive subjects, resolve disagreements, and reframe problems.
- Feel relaxed and energized at the same time. Laughter relieves fatigue and relaxes your body, while also recharging your batteries and helping you accomplish more.
- Overcome problems and setbacks. A sense of humor is the key to resilience. It helps you take hardships in stride, weather disappointment, and bounce back from adversity and loss.
- Put things into perspective. Most situations are not as bleak as they appear to be when looked at from a playful and humorous point of view.
- Be more creative. Humor and playfulness loosen you up, energizing thinking and inspiring creative problem solving.
Improving your playful communication skills
It’s never too late to develop and embrace your playful, humorous side. Self-consciousness and concern for how you look and sound to others is probably a big factor that’s limiting your playfulness. But as a baby, you were naturally playful; you didn’t worry about the reactions of other people.
You can reclaim your inborn playfulness by setting aside regular, quality playtime. The more you joke, play, and laugh—the easier it becomes.
Cultivating your sense of humor and playfulness
The process of learning to play depends on your preferences. Begin by observing what you already do that borders on fun or playful. For example, do you like:
- telling or listening to jokes
- watching funny movies or TV shows
- dancing around to cheesy music when you’re alone
- singing in the shower
- reading the funny pages
After you recognize things you already enjoy, you can try to incorporate more playful activities into your life. The important thing is to find enjoyable activities that loosen you up and help you embrace your playful nature with other people.
Another excellent way to learn playfulness is to practice with “experts”:
|Play with animals. Puppies, kittens, and other animals—both young and old—are eager playmates and always ready to frolic. Make play dates with friends’ pets, stop to play with a friendly animal in your neighborhood, or consider getting a pet of your own.|
|Play with babies and young children. The real authorities in human play are children, especially young children. Playing with children who know and trust you is a wonderful way to learn from the experts.|
|Interact playfully with customer service people. Most people in the service industry are social and you’ll find that many will welcome playful banter. Try your wit out on a friendly cashier, receptionist, waiter, hostess, or salesperson.|
As humor and play become an integrated part of your life, you should find new opportunities for play daily.
The power of laughter and play
Playful communication is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships exciting, fresh, and vital. Laughter and play enrich your interactions and give your relationships that extra zing that keeps them interesting, light, and enjoyable. This shared pleasure creates a sense of intimacy and connection—qualities that define solid, lasting relationships.
People are attracted to happy, funny individuals. Laughter draws others to you and keeps them by your side. When you laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain to smile and join in on the fun.
The health benefits of laughter
Laughter and playfulness also come with numerous physical and mental health benefits. Laughter triggers a host of healthy changes in your brain and body.
Laughter helps you stay healthy by:
- Boosting your mood
- Decreasing stress hormones
- Improving oxygen flow to the brain
- Reducing physical pain
- Lowering blood pressure
- Strengthening the immune system
- Protecting the heart
- Relaxing your body
Mental health benefits of laughter and humor
The mental health benefits of laughter are tied to the physical benefits. When your body is relaxed and energized, you are better able to think and communicate clearly. This helps you keep your own emotions in check, relate in a positive way to others, and resolve conflict.
Laughter is a particularly powerful antidote to depression and anxiety. Having a sense of humor offsets depression and anxiety by:
- Releasing endorphins. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that boost mood and override sadness and negative thoughts.
- Putting things into perspective. Most situations are not as bleak as they appear to be when looked at from a playful and humorous point of view.
- Connecting us to others. Our mental health depends, to a large degree, on the quality of our relationships—and laughter binds people together.