Why Laughter is So Contagious

whylaughteriscontagious1whylaughteriscontagious2 whylaughteriscontagious5You 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.

whylaughteriscontagious9There 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.

whylaughteriscontegious4Eventually 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?

whylaughteriscontagiousquote1We 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?

whylaugingiscontagious6whylaughteriscontagious10Laughter 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.

It’s the perfect antidote for so many things.

 

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?

Finding the Antidote

FindingtheAntidote 2An unwelcome visitor descended on our house this week.

It started with irritated skin, itching, and now bumpy skin, quickly turned to oozing, irritated, and red cracked skin. Yes, poison ivy descended for a lengthy visit on the youngest member of our household and a much milder case for the eldest member. Thankfully I was spared this round, but have not been so lucky in the past.

Now if you have had poison ivy, you can sympathize. There is not much you can do while you watch with horror as your beautiful smooth skin turns into a hideous covering that itches like crazy.

The one thing you can do is wait, then wait some more, and then wait some more as your skin finally circles through the cycle of poison ivy and slowly returns too normal.

There is one comforting thing about this time of year, though, if you are suffering with the effects of poison ivy and wishing you could fall asleep and wake up two weeks later, well, you are not the only one.

Just talk to enough people and you will find fellow sufferers afflicted with the same nasty itch brought on by the oils contained in this three leafed plant. In fact, I was told that this time of year the oil is the most potent and toxic to those who are allergic to it. I also found a number of people who have recently had poison ivy, currently have its marring effects, or earlier this year had a case of ivy itchies.

So I guess the comforting thing is that when you feel like itching off another layer of skin, there are others already doing it. There are fellow sufferers one day behind and one day ahead of you.

FindingtheAntidote 4finding theAntidote 3Several times I have heard that the antidote of poison ivy and other irritating plants, like stinging nettles, usually grow very near to the offending plants. The antidote for poison ivy, I am told, is Jewel Weed. If you break the stem of the plant and rub the liquid on any areas infected with poison ivy, or that came in contact with poison ivy, the Jewel Weed juice is supposed to neutralize the poison of the ivy on your skin. Do it sooner than later as time is of the essence. Horsetail and Dock Plant is supposed to neutralize stinging nettles.

I watch my son trying not to itch and go crazy with his poison ivy and he reminds me of myself sometimes.

Just like poison ivy can irritate our skin and cause us to itch and scratch like crazy, life and people and hurts and grievances and doubts and guilt and one hundred and twenty other things can cause me to be irritated and moody and no fun to live with. My attitude can need an adjustment, or my soul may be itching for something much different from what it is currently experiencing, or I can be irritated by life and people and feel about to implode.

What I need to remember is that the antidote is nearby. Just like the poison ivy plants and the Jewel Weed plants often grow nearby to each other, so an antidote and help is readily available to me.

But to take advantage of this antidote I need to look up. Not inside myself, trying to solve the problem myself. Not outside myself, trying to solve my problem through other people, activities, or busyness. But up. Up to my creator.

FindingtheAntidoteQuoteHe is the antidote.

I need to remember who He is – my father, sustainer, protector, guide, comforter, shield, Lord, giver of all good things. And I need to remember who I am – his daughter, beloved, forgiven, sustained, heaped with grace, redeemed, his treasure and joy.

He is the antidote.

The attitude antidote to bad moods, criticizing attitudes, controlling tongues, temper flares, comparison, guilt and shame.

And the cool thing is he is always nearby. No searching necessary.

Finding the Antidote 1Unlike the Jewel Weed.

It did cross my mind to try and find some Jewel Weed, but as it grows real close to poison ivy, which I am not very good at identifying, I figured I would probably return with a bad case of the itchies myself.