Ever since our first breath, we express our joy through bouts of laughter. As tiny babies, we would screech with unintelligible sounds to colour our pleasure, while as adults we resort to laughing as an easy way to relieve stress. But have you ever wondered what laughter actually is?
To start off, the official definition states that laughter is a physical reaction consisting usually of rhythmical contractions of the diaphragm, considered an auditory expression of a number of positive emotional states, such as joy, mirth, happiness, or relief. Sigmund Freud created a theory which explained that while expressing our pleasure we release tension and psychic energy, leading to a healthier lifestyle. Various authors and philosophers shared their view on humans’ reaction to positive stimuli, with Madeleine L’Engle saying that A good laugh heals a lot of hurts. While this seems like a bit of a stretch, there is actually some truth to those claims. Several studies have shown that laughing has proven beneficial in the reduction of stress levels and the release of endorphins that help alleviate physical agony.
On a personal level, laughter is the result of our social behaviour, as we always resort to this kind of reaction to make ourselves feel better. This improvement in positivity opens the door to a more outgoing look at life, which in turn makes us more productive and willing to brave the endless possibilities of our destiny. A distinct characteristic of laughter is its contagiousness since interaction with close friends leads to joy, which we unconsciously spread to the world surrounding us. Writer William Thackeray believed that „A good laugh is a sunshine in the house”, which mirrors the idea that even the darkest night can be lit with a tiny spark of happiness.
What is more, laughter is an unsharpened weapon, lethal to the tensest situation. For example, imagine that you have to prepare a presentation which will decide your near future. At first, you are not scared by the prospect of presenting your ideas in front of a room full of people whose attention is focused on you. But then, doubt clouds your judgment and you can hear the unspoken words and see that which had not yet happened, and suddenly, your confidence vanishes into thin air. Dozens of sets of eyes are trained on you while you stare into nothingness and go up the stairs leading up to the platform. On the last step, you trip and almost fall to your knees. You laugh at the ridiculousness of your actions and hear in the background the rest of the jury enjoying your clumsiness. Seeing the smiles on their faces makes you realize that the situation is not as horrifying as your anxiety painted it to be and you proceed to present your ideas faultlessly, making jokes every now and then to keep the people entertained. The moral of this story is wonderfully illustrated by Mark Twain’s belief that nothing can stand against the assault of laughter.
In conclusion, laughter is the first ingredient of happiness, an emotion that has been pursued by humanity ever since its creation. It should be always be taken with the utmost seriously, being a balm that can smooth the jagged pieces of a broken soul.
Article written by Sîrbu Ana.
Edited by Botescu Ioana.