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10 Things you may not know about laughter

  1. What is it? - Laughter, or the response to humor, is a physical reaction consisting of rhythmical, often audible, contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system.

  2. The best medicine - Laughter makes people feel better in the moment. It also appears to have long-term physical and mental health benefits. Some experts recommend that individuals get 15 to 20 minutes of laughter a day.

  3. More fun - Happy people have more fun. Individuals who choose to be happy and positive tend to look for more opportunities to laugh. It's been said that the average 4-year-old laughs 300 times a day, whereas the average 40-year-old laughs only four times a day. "You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing."

  4. Heart healthy - Research has shown that laughter has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps protect blood vessels and heart muscle from the damaging effects of cardiovascular disease. In fact, one study found that people with cardiac disease laughed approximately 40% less at life-related situations than those individuals without cardiac disease.

  5. It's no joke - Laughter can have a positive impact on a person's stress level. Not only does it decrease the release of stress hormones, but it also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good hormones, which promote an overall sense of well-being, as well, as in some circumstances, temporarily relieve pain.

  6. Stretches the imagination - Laughter allows people to entertain the absurd and imagine alternative possibilities. All factors considered, by creating psychological distance, it allows people to have a sense of safety when they're confronted by anxiety-provoking life situations.

  7. Small calorie burner - Scientists have calculated that just 15 minutes of laughter a day will burn approximately 10 to 40 calories a day. Such a caloric expenditure can result in a loss of 1 to 4 lbs a year.

  8. Hardwired - Everyone has the capacity to laugh, including blind and deaf people. Laughing could be considered the universal language. Greetings may entail different meanings in various regions and areas of the world, but laughter is a sign of happiness everywhere on the planet. Laughter is the sound that does not have any language.

  9. Laughing is contagious - When someone sees someone smiling and laughing, their natural response is to do the same. The brain responds to the sound of laughter and preps the muscles in the face to join in the mirth. Also, a person is 30 times more likely to laugh when in a group versus being alone.

  10. Improves self-esteem - Not only can laughing and smiling make a person feel better about themselves, they are appealing attributes that help boose a sense of confidence in social situations.

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