The Power of Laughter - Random Reasonings

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The Power of Laughter

Did you know that the average adult laughs only 17 times a day?

And the average child laughs 300 times a day!

Obviously, as we get older we are losing our sense of humor. And that’s not funny!

Who doesn’t love to laugh? It’s healthy. Not only does laughing improve your mood, it improves your immune system. And right now with Covid cases still at high numbers, we all need improved immune systems.

I can’t think of a better way to do it than to find more to laugh about.

Laughter is healing. It’s uniting. It’s mentally and emotionally invigorating.

When we laugh about things together, and especially when we can laugh at ourselves and our own foibles and behavior, we not only feel better, we share positive emotions that make the day better.

There is even a place for laughter at funerals. Although they are a time focused on personal loss, recalling a humorous memory unites mourners in a good way. I remember at my father’s funeral, one of his lifelong friends made a funny tribute to my Dad’s ever-present sense of humor and it was just what we all needed to be reminded of … not that we lost him, but that the joy and laughter he brought to us will always be remembered.

Back in the mid 1990’s, through an article in Prevention magazine, I discovered Dr. Andrew Weil. His first book, Spontaneous Healing, gave me a lot of good advice to help me deal with stress. Two things still stand out in my mind. They are … 1.) laugh more and 2.) stop watching or listening to the news.

Laughing more is hard to do when we are surrounded by news that is deliberately presented to generate feelings of anger, fear, envy, distrust, revenge, and frustration.

Laughing more is hard to do when the entertainment media we watch is more focused on producing shows about drama, violence, dark fantasies, conflict, crime, and combative competition than on comedy, uplifting stories, or feel-good musical performances.

There was a time when prime time TV had more comedy and musical variety shows than anything else. Yes, there were westerns, cop shows, and scary sci fi, but mostly there were comedies. A typical Saturday night prime time line-up in the mid ‘70s was The Jeffersons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and The Carol Burnett Show. An entire Saturday night of laughter! That has changed.

According to the World Happiness Report (Yes, there is such a thing!) the decline of happiness in the U.S. started with the economic recession of 2008. The last report is from 2019 so it is pre-Covid where the level of unhappiness has grown more quickly.  Unlike previous economic downturns, when recovery started in 2010 it didn’t bring with it an increase in happiness, or a brighter outlook, or more optimism.

For Millennials born in the late 1980s and early 1990s that means their entire adult life has been lived during a decline of happiness. No wonder depression is a growing problem.

The report mapped happiness back to 1973 and found the peaks of happiness, the most happy years for us, were in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a dip down in 1989-1990. Why the dip in 1989-1990?

It was a presidential election year. Presidential elections always create a dip in happiness because negative political ads and opponent bashing are deliberately created to cause fear, anger, envy, and a desire for revenge … negative emotional reactions. Since 1990 presidential election years have become more vitriolic with each campaign. And that’s a huge downer for us all!

Political candidates used to have a sense of humor.

JFK and Ronald Reagan both used humor very effectively to engage with voters and establish rapport with members of Congress in both political parties. It was effective and allowed them to get things done.

What a contrast to the politics of today!

Political correctness, woke culture, perceived unfairness, and manipulations to divide us are all zapping our sense of humor. Our funny bones are fractured. And I wonder if they will ever heal.

Laughter is a vital part of a happy life. Look for what’s funny in the things that happen every day. Beat the odds … laugh more than 17 times a day! Tune out the dark and anger-inducing messages on your TV’s and devices.

Look for ways to keep the fun in your life. Value what you have instead of grumbling about what you don’t have.  If you can find more reasons to laugh every day, you’ll be happier and healthier!A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.

Laura Ingalls Wilder


  1. Excellent thoughts! Tom and I have had this discussion numerous times. We find many times each day to laugh at ourselves . I do agree that it is hard to find entertainment that involves laughs….unless you are into really dark ‘humor.’ The older sitcoms that had us laughing at ourselves are harder to find and today’s programming is definitely focused Moreland more on crime and heartbreak. If I trip onto an episode of ‘Everyone Loves Raymond,’ we are guaranteed 30 minutes of laughs! Cleansing belly laughs!
    I am reminded of Dad’s Barber Shop which was a room in our house. We could hear the sometimes loud and raucous discussions on very diverse topics related to politics and more. We heard very strong opinions and disagreements but always interspersed with jokes and bell laughs! When the shop closed, some would head out together to play cards, go bowling, play softball and more. Folks can have vastly different points of view and still remain friends. How I miss those days.
    We most definitely need more humor in our daily lives….perhaps now more than ever?

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