If I hear someone laughing ‘hysterically’, whether that be on the TV or ‘in person’, I can’t help but start to laugh myself. I could have been in the worst mood ever all day, failing to show even the slightest smile, but then, upon hearing someone laughing a lot, the corners of my mouth would begin, almost uncontrollably, to turn up, too. Now, I know that I am not alone in having had, and continuing to have, this experience, for, it is actually a proven phenomenon, as highlighted by neuroscientists- laughter really is contagious, acting as a sort of ‘tonic’ for the trials and tribulations that can so often occur in our day-to-day life. What happens is that, when we hear other people laughing, our brain responds to the sound of that laughter, prepping the muscles in the face to join in (hence why we often find ourselves involuntarily smiling after hearing laughter.) In fact, we are more likely to find ourselves smiling and subsequently laughing, not after hearing a joke, as one would most likely assume, but after hearing another person laughing (this being why laughter can be concluded as being ‘contagious’- because it evidently is.) This natural response we have to laughter is why comedy shows tend to put pre-recorded laughter after jokes, because hearing the audio is more likely to instil laughter in the audience.
Fortunately for us, laughter is a ‘good’ contagious, unlike most other things that we describe as being ‘contagious.’ So good is laughter in fact, that it has several health benefits, one such health benefit being enhanced oxygen intake, something which subsequently results in the lungs, heart and muscles being simulated, and endorphins being released, all contributing to a heightened immune system. Furthermore, having a good laugh can also relieve tension and stress, decrease depression and anxiety, and increase productivity.
So, with all the positives that come from doing something as simple as laughing, the key takeaway is this: Allow yourself to laugh more, unfiltered.