There is something about it that can make the dark that engulfs me at times disappear. I don’t know how it happens.
Over a century ago, William James—an American physician, philosopher, and educator, who many consider the father of modern psychology—wisely said,
“We don’t laugh because we’re happy. We’re happy because we laugh.”
There are plenty of medical studies that talk about the benefits of laughter:
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
- Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
- Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
- Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
- Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile.
But enough of all the medical jargon..
I’m not saying that depression can be cured by watching a comedy movie. Although Dr. C has suggested trying that when I start feeling down or overwhelmed with emotions that I don’t know how to release…even though laughing seems like an impossible feat in those moments. Not to mention when I am depressed laughing is the last thing I feel like doing. But maybe when we don’t feel like laughing- is when we need to do it the most.
But what I have been discovering is that laughter in my life is important. It can lighten my soul and make the weight of this world feel lighter at times. Especially with my BPD. When my mood takes a quick turn for the worse, if there is someone in my life who can make me smile and help me laugh, the world suddenly doesn’t look so bleak. I can focus on the way they see the world, and it helps me look at it differently too. Have you ever tried stay sad or depressed while you are laughing? I don’t think the two emotions can occupy your body at the same time. Even if the depression returns sometime after the laughter is gone, it is good to have those emotions in the midst of a depressive episode, since the feelings of happiness seem so out of reach, and almost forgettable. If you can smile and laugh even a few times through your depression, it helps you to remember that happiness is not gone forever; it can break through and one day will return.
So laugh, be silly, surround yourself with people who make you laugh and smile. Listen to a comedian, watch a romantic comedy, play with your dog.. Wear funny socks that make you smile…just find something in your life that can make you laugh.
I believe in the effects of laughing and smiling. So much so, that I have created a new page on my blog dedicated to humor… I’ll be adding to it all the time, so there is constantly new stuff…. So take a look one day if you ever need a laugh.