How to Harness the Power of Laughter for a Better Life

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Laughter is the best medicine.

I am sure you have heard that one. Laughter can make you feel better. It can actually help you heal. Laughter reduces stress. A lot of laughter will help improve your immune system. And it certinaly works to improve your mood by increasing your happiness.

It probably seems obbvious to anyone who has had a good laugh after feeling bad. But laughter makes you feel better.

As obvious as it may seem, there have been many studies showing how much a little bit of laughter can improve our mood. There have been many  studies to back this up.

Laughter is one of life's most amazing gifts.

  • It vaporizes stress – lowering levels of cortisol and epinephrine.1
  • It increases our pain threshold – watching just 15 minutes of comedy makes us 10% more resistant to pain.2
  • It improves our immunity and fights off disease – watching 60 minutes of comedy increases the volume and activity of our immune cells.3
  • Its mere anticipation immediately improves mood, reduces pain, and boosts our immune system. Yes, that's right – just anticipating future laughter increases endorphin levels by 27%, and human growth hormone levels by 87%.4

It does much more, like improving blood flow and memory, but what this post focuses on is the stress reduction and mood elevation.

Our biology often hijacks our body for its own purposes.

It makes us crave food when we're trying to diet.  Biology may make us cheat on our spouse even though we love them.  It may make us watch funny cat videos

when we should be working.  It may even make us watch TV even though we should exercise.

I say the word, “make” very loosely. No one holds a gun to our head. Ultimately these are all our personal choices and we cannot truly blame biology. Perhaps it would be better to say that biology tempts us to do all these (and more) bad things.

Now it's our turn.

Laughter is a social tool. It exists to help us build relationships with other people. We like people who make us laugh, we like people who laugh at our jokes, and we like people who are laughing with us. Thank you biology – without my humor I probably wouldn't have gotten as many dates 😉

But now, let's make laughter a happiness tool.

Comedy movies and humor websites are extremely popular. Most of us actively seek out non-social laughter on a weekly basis. I often can't help but watch or read the funny things my friends share on facebook.

Okay. That's a first step. But now it's time to throw away our crutches.

Watching a 30-minute comedy show or browsing a humor website will net us, at best, a few minutes of laughter.

Be lazy.

Instead of spending an hour to get 5-10 minutes of laughter … just laugh for 5-10 minutes.

Find a place where you can be alone. If you're alone right now, that's perfect. If not, keep this in mind for the next time you are.

Okay. Just laugh. Laughing on command is a skill. Luckily, it's extremely easy to learn.

Just pretend a friend said something funny, or recall the last time you had a good laugh and replicate the experience. Yes, our bodies designed laughter to be our response to something funny. But it doesn't have to be that way – we can break free from our biology.

Laughter is so powerful that there is no reason not to develop this skill.

The body cannot tell the difference between “fake” and “real” laughter. When I find myself a bit tired or sad, I laugh. Think it's weird?

Which do you think is “weirder”: releasing dopamine by laughing by yourself, or releasing dopamine by stroking yourself? If solo sex is socially acceptable, why isn't solo laughing? For reasons I'll explore in another post in this series, laughter is the better choice.

This isn't some crazy idea I dreamt up one day – there are dozens of laughter clubs throughout the world – clubs of people who get together and just spontaneously laugh.

If you want to be more happy, you should laugh more. The fastest way to laugh more is to just laugh. 

I recommend creating a trigger – an emotional state, time of day, or environment cue after which you always laugh. If it's not a habit, it won't help you.

Here is a special treat: a 5 minute video of me just laughing. I'm a reserved introvert. If I can share my laughter with the world, surely you can share your laughter with an empty room.


This is post 2 of the Month of Happiness. Check out the rest!Day 1: Psychostimulants: They might give you happiness; they might give you a heart attack
Day 2: How to Harness the Power of Laughter: An Easy, Effective, and Infinite Source of Joy
Day 3:  Three Good Things, A Small Gratitude Exercise for a Large Boost of Happiness
Day 4: The Right Way to Fake a Smile For Health and Happiness
Day 5: Emotional Contagion: 5 Ways to Get Your Environment to Work for You
Day 6: Ditch Porn – It’s Playboy on (Dopamine Draining) Steroids
Day 7: Why I “Remain” an Introvert, Though the Science Suggests Extroverts are Happier
Day 8: Yoga – It Isn’t Just for Female Hipsters
Day 9: Watch More TV; It Makes You Happy!
Day 10: Kaizen: Accomplishing Big Goals with Tiny Steps
Day 11: Omega-3 Supplementation – Good For The Heart & Vitamin Shoppe’s Bottom Line
Day 12: Good Sleep: Not Optional for Happiness and High Performance
Day 13: One Tab at a Time: 7 Tips to Browse the Web More Mindfully
Day 14: Optimism, The Blind Man’s Gamble
Day 15: A Story of Change, The 5 Willpower Techniques That Create Action
Day 16: Zest, The Spice of Life… or is it?
Day 17: Exercise: Better than Zoloft
Day 18: Relaxation: The Magic Tonic That Cures Headaches & Relieves Indigestion
Day 19: Spirituality for the Irreligious – Getting the Benefits Outside the Cathedral
Day 20: Meditation – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Beautiful




7 thoughts on “How to Harness the Power of Laughter for a Better Life”

  1. LMAO. Amit, this was great. Especially the video – kudos to you for sharing! Even as I was just reading the article, I felt lighter, like I could just feel a laugh coming on. I’m at work, so I’m not gonna go all out this very second. 😉 But I did let go a good chuckle, and the smile has stuck. On a day where I’m feelin’ unreasonably tired, this was so appreciated. Thanks!!

    • I’m glad! I hope you’ll give it a try once you go home. I’m also secretly hoping my friends and family don’t watch the video, because then it’ll be out in the open: I’m a madman 😉

      I know it sounds weird, but I’m trying to make this a part of my daily routine. And, to motivate myself, I’m tracking how many minutes I laugh, and competing against myself to see if I can increase the time. Okay, I just re-read what I wrote, and it does sound weird.


  2. I love the video!! I just realized that my daily trips downtown to do errands serve a secondary purpose of visiting friends. When we visit, we amuse each other and laugh. I didn’t know this was fulfilling my need for laughter, but it does… so friend-visiting is a healthy thing to do!

    • Absolutely. The easiest way to laugh is to just laugh, but without a doubt the funnest way is to spend time with a good friend!

  3. I’m glad you laughed along with me, that means I didn’t make a fool of myself for nothing!

    It’s the same with me – in just this week that I’ve started tracking my laughter, my mood has noticeably improved. It’s almost like meditation, but not as hard (but also not as powerful).

    Hopefully I will be able to keep up the article production… it’s getting difficult!

  4. Ha ha ha ha ha!! Isn’t it funny how contageous laughter can be. If you are just around others who are laughing you can’t help starting to giggle! I love to laugh! And I absolutely agree that it is more therapeutic than most any other supposed happiness inducing substance!


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