We all know how a little chuckle can make us feel better or lighten the mood in all types of situations. But research is now also showing that in addition to individual health benefits, there are significant advantages that laughter brings to the development and maintenance of healthy relationships.
It turns out that creating the right atmosphere for laughter to flow in our homes can add to our relationships and help to build the bonds that strengthen our families.
Laughter as Medicine
First, let’s take a look at the three-prong benefits of laughter in our lives: physical, mental, and social. It seems the saying that prescribes laughter as the medicine for what ails us might be more accurate than we thought since numerous studies have demonstrated the many health benefits of laughter. Below are some advantages of adding laughter to your life.
- Boosts immunity
- Relaxes muscles
- Relieves stress
- Improves mood
- Promotes group bonding
- Enhances teamwork
- Helps diffuse conflict
Laughter and Healthy Relationships
Families are unique – from the persons who make up each family unit to the shared values and traditions. Although what a family looks like or does together may differ, strong families are a place of safety and learning where its members find acceptance and love. And as alluded to above, these families also have another thing in common – they are environments where laughter abounds.
The Bonding Chemical
So, how does laughter work its magic? Although it’s less mystery and more due to biology, scientists have discovered that laughter affects the brain, causing a release of endorphins (also known as the ‘feel-good hormones’). These hormones seem to be the ingredient that ‘supports formation, reinforcement, and maintenance of social bonds between humans.’
Shared Laughter is Key
The things that make us laugh are as varied as the individuals that comprise families themselves. Watching a comedic movie, reading a silly book, or telling funny jokes are all sources of laughter. But how does laughter translate into healthier, happier families?
Laughter must be shared for it to benefit relationships. The mechanisms related to laughter that facilitate healthy relationships through better communication, enhanced problem-solving, increased comfort, and acceptance are activated when laughter is seen as an expression of kindness rather than contempt or at another’s expense. People who can share laughter feel a sense of closeness and similarity, desire to be in connection, and view these ties as sources of social support. As a result, they experience more positive emotions and feel more satisfied with these relationships.
Building Happy Families
Developing a foundation built on mutual respect, love, and trust will support an atmosphere where families can share laughs. When members take care to use gentle humor that is not sarcastic or doesn’t make light of or expose family members’ vulnerabilities, individuals want to draw closer instead of withdrawing or becoming defensive. Bringing this kind of laughter into a home can be beneficial in several ways:
- Improves our perspective – Laughter can help us to see things in a new or funny way
- Eases communication – Humor can help us to be creative in conveying meaning or lightening the mood in a serious or tense situation
- Coping tool – Using laughter to decrease anxiety and stress can help us to deal with challenging circumstances
Ways to Encourage Laughter in Families
When using laughter to build happy families, remember that everyone needs to be included in the fun! And some of the funniest times families share come from the fond memories made right at home. But in case you need some ideas to get you started, we’ve included a few below.
- Keep a family journal of funny moments
- Read funny books together
- Watch humorous movies as a family
- Share jokes or funny stories at home or when taking a trip
- Encourage the sharing of intergenerational stories by including extended family in the activities
Cultivating the value of laughter not only helps build strong families, but it also teaches children essential skills such as keeping a good perspective, healthy ways of relating to others, and strategies for coping with problems. So, start a tradition of laughing together; it will be like chicken soup for your family’s soul!