How does laughing help us?

Most people have heard of serotonin and dopamine, but most don’t understand how important they are to our nervous system and our overall health. These two hormones affect various body systems and your general well-being.

The human body is controlled by the constant internal communication of a wide variety of hormones and chemical reactions. These reactions are the catalyst for the way our body reacts to our external environment. We all know that when we get scared or angry, we can feel not only different physical reactions, such as muscle tension or upset stomach, but we can literally look red or lose our appetite. The opposite reactions occur when we perceive and feel joy, our body feels light, the heart and stomach fill with butterflies, the light seems brighter.

When we are happy, the thalamus (our internal message transmission center) receives these messages and helps coordinate the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine with the brain and nervous system. The effects can be seen and felt instantly, not only in the person himself, but also in those around him.

How do these two “hormones of happiness” affect the rest of the body?

Our autonomic nervous system controls all of our internal organs, such as the heart, stomach, lungs, digestion, etc. It is divided into sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digestion) systems.

When one system is activated, the other diminishes its function. This allows our body to adapt to what is happening in our outside world. Whether it’s for stressful deadlines at work or nice dinners with friends, our bodies need different kinds of responses. When we laugh and cultivate joy, we activate our parasympathetic system, our body is calm, and we can relax and enjoy.

While the body does this, many things happen …

Our digestive organs can easily process our food so that we can get the proper nutrition and keep our bodies fueled with the oil that nourishes our cells and keeps us alive.


Our circadian rhythms (our sleep patterns) are balanced and our bodies rest and repair better at night, leaving us refreshed the next day.


The circulatory system and our heart rate when we are happy work differently than when we are stressed or sad. We feel more open and accepted and relate to others differently than when our hearts are wounded or closed.


Our breathing allows us to breathe more deeply, filling our lungs and in turn our cells with more oxygen.


The immune system gets a good boost to help health with joy by lowering the stress hormones that cause inflammation and disease (cortisol and adrenaline) and instead increasing immunoglobulin A, an important immune helper.

What are some ways to increase joy in your life (even in times of stress)?

Go for a walk in nature or to a place that you like
Create and connect with people who share your same passion. Having a sense of community and support is vital to our health and well-being.
Practice gratitude for what you DO have, take attention away from what you don’t have
Laugh for no reason (even if you fake laughing, you will end up releasing the hormones of happiness)
Be true to yourself, do not compare yourself with others and their happiness
Connect with people or animals that make you happy and inspire you
Be ridiculous, as adults we tend to hide the silliness we had when we were kids. Don’t be afraid to reconnect with your inner child.
Don’t take life so seriously Enjoy, dance, play, sing, laugh, hug … and do it often
One of the biggest plagues facing our society today is STRESS, and what most people don’t know is that it is slowly killing them. So what is the best way to counter stress? … Cultivate joy in small and large ways. Your nervous system and your body will thank you by creating a healthier and happier internal environment.

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