I watched a silly movie last week with my seven-year-old son. At one point he was rolling around the carpet, clutching his stomach while tears of laughter rolled down his bright red face.
By comparison, I went to the cinema last night to see a new comedy with my partner. I found one part really funny but noticed when I started laughing out loud that I immediately toned it down. Looking around, I could see I wasn’t the only one stifling my natural urge to exude a huge belly laugh. My fear of drawing attention to myself sadly outweighed my natural instinct to noisily share my happiness.
I am not sure when I lost the ability to unselfconsciously roar with laughter, but now that I'm aware of it, I'm claiming it right back. To be able to express pure joy without any inhibitions is not only our birthright, it's also darned good for us. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Laughter releases feel-good endorphins into your system, which can help to relieve pain.
2. Laughter contracts your abdominal muscles and gets your shoulders moving giving you a mini-workout.
3. Laughter increases blood flow and improves the function of blood vessels, which can help protect the heart.
4. Laughter has a relaxing effect on the whole body for up to 45 minutes afterwards.
5. Laughter initially raises blood pressure, then reduces it, leaving a lower blood pressure than normal.
6. Laughter can be contagious, increasing happiness and intimacy, thus enhancing relationships.
7. Laughter speeds up metabolism and heart rate, which could help you lose weight.
8. Laughter expels more air than normal breathing, which has a cleansing effect on the lungs.
9. Laughter reduces anxiety and helps relieve depression by reducing stress and releasing pent-up tension.
10. Laughter increases the number of T-cells in your body, giving your immune system a boost.
Wow. Next time I won't be afraid to publicly acknowledge my amusement!