If you’re like me, you always have a stack of chores waiting for you at home: Beds to make. Dishes to wash. Floors to vacuum. Soyou may feel guilty if you spend even a few minutes watching funny cat videos or giggling at The Mindy Project. But don’t!
You know why? Because as it turns out, laughter really is one of the best medicines. In fact, a good chuckle or a hearty belly-laugh can do everything from slimming you down to making you smarter. Here are five top reasons why laughing is good for you:
It elevates your endorphins. Endorphins are “feel good” chemicals that make you feel happy and reduce pain. When you laugh, your endorphin rates skyrocket. It’s like a runner’s high—only without the running!
It helps you bond with your friends and family. Robin Dunbar, an expert on evolution, says that laughing with your friends serves the same purpose as grooming and “nit-picking” in other species: It helps strengthen your relationships. That, in turn, makes you happier and healthier. And laughing together is a lot more fun than picking bugs off each other, isn’t it?
It lowers your cortisol levels. When you laugh, your stress drops—and so do your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol make you put on belly fat, so a good laugh every day can help you prevent that “spare tire.”
It burns calories. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that ten or fifteen minutes of laughing each day can raise your energy expenditure enough for you to burn an extra 10 to 40 calories—which translates into about four pounds a year.
It helps keep your brain young as you age. In one study, scientists showed funny videos to older adults. Compared to a control group who just sat quietly, participants who watched the funny videos had better scores afterward on learning, recall, and visual recognition.
Clearly, laughing is good for your health, your brain, and your waistline. So here’s my Rx for you: Pull up a chair, put on a sitcom, and let the dishes, the laundry, and the dirty floor wait.
And here’s another tip. Don’t just laugh at jokes or funny shows—learn to laugh at life as well. A good sense of humor will help you weather life’s little catastrophes, from a burned casserole to gum in a toddler’s hair. In fact, one of the best life skills you can cultivate is the ability to laugh at the little stuff. (And that old cliché is true: Most life crises are little stuff, when viewed in retrospect.)
So find something that makes you laugh every day—whether it’s a Seinfeld rerun, a funny YouTube video, or even the sight of your puppy doing something dreadful enough to warrant a post on dogshaming.com. Simple laughter may not seem like powerful medicine… but it is!
Keep Thinking Big & Living Bold!