You hear someone laugh and what happens?
You often suddenly stop and engage to see what is happening. All the while your facial muscles are starting to smile, which is the first step of laughing.
And before you know it, you are often joining in and laughing. Especially if the laughter you happen to hear doesn’t immediately stop.
Why? Because laughter is like yawning. They are both contagious and easy to pass on.
This is what happens to me.
My ears prick up. My curiosity engages. What are they laughing at? I wonder.
A smile pulls at my lips.
I may wander closer to the person who is laughing. Listen for a second to the dialogue, if there is one, and before I know it I am joining in and laughing. Maybe even contributing to the conversation.
There is a reason all those YouTube laughing baby videos are so popular. The sound of laughing is contagious and often causes us to laugh. So before the 30 seconds are up and the baby has slumped over from laughter exhaustion, we are joining in and our laughter swirls with the sound waves of the baby’s.
Sometimes my husband will be sitting putting his shoes on or engaged in some menial task and doing nothing exciting and suddenly he will think of something funny and just burst out laughing. We will prick our ears up and ask him what is so funny. But at this point he is so caught up in his belly laugh that he could no more talk than tie his shoe.
Now when my husband really gets to laughing, I mean one of those sustained laughing-baby-types-of-laughs, there is nothing so contagious. He has one of the most contagious laughs I have heard.
“What?” we clamor.
“What’s so funny?” we beg, wanting to be allowed into the joke and circle of knowing.
But only laughter greets our ears.
“What?” we clamor again, but by now the giggles are setting in on us, taking over our emotions and actions.
He wipes his eyes, tries to speak, and bursts out into another belly laugh that denies all talking.
We are now laughing along with him, not even knowing what he is laughing at, but unable to help ourselves or stop our bodies from experiencing pure pleasure and the release of laughing.
Eventually my husband wipes his eyes and groans, and now only a few giggles emerge.
And then he is telling us what he was laughing about.
Which sends us all into another round of giggles.
And of course we all have something to add to the incident or story and we laugh some more.
Finally, our laughter fades away and my husband finally gets his shoes on and tied.
We all ooze back to what we were doing before, but happier, less stressed, a little more connected, full of good feelings and endorphins, even a little braver and ready to face our next life challenge.
Studies show that when people hear laughter, their brain begins to prep the facial muscles to smile so we are ready to join in the mirth. Just like yawning. When we see someone yawn, even if is our dog, we often start imitating their facial gestures and we are soon yawning. Even if we are not tired.
Okay, I have yawned four times now, just writing about yawning. Talk about the power of suggestion. Yet, I have also smiled numerous times and even laughed just writing about laughter.
So why is laughter contagious?
We were created to live in community with others and this involves joining in the laughter with others. Laughter is about giving and taking. Communicating. Sharing. Expressing pleasure. Releasing stress and resetting relationships back too positive.
What isn’t there to love about laughing? It creates smile lines (not frown lines). It bonds us through a shared experience. It breaks down barriers. It raises our spirits and resets our mood. And besides, laughing is just plain fun.
And who doesn’t want a little more fun?
Laughter also gives us a tiny glance of heaven and the joy we will experience there.
So go ahead and laugh this week. Search for those moments of humor. And then pass that laughter to someone nearby.
Discover for yourself just how contagious laughter is.
Join the Discussion: Do you find laughter to be contagious? What are your thoughts on why it is contagious? How does laughter help you? Who do you know with the most contagious laugh?