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Saturday, 01 January 2000

Consider The Importance Of Laughter: A High School Essay

Written by  Karen Elizabeth Angus

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The late Erma Bombeck, one of America's funniest columnists and author of quite a few dissertations on the humor of life, knew the importance of laughter. "If I could live my life over," she once wrote, "I would have laughed more." People who laugh are pleasant to be with; pull a long face all day, and you will soon notice that others try to keep out of your way. Laughing speaks of humor and the importance of laughter can never be underestimated. It is a part of life.

On the scientific front, laughter makes for good health. When a person laughs, chemicals named endorphins are released. These are the same chemicals triggered in response to sexual stimulation. They make a person feel good, relieving stress and indirectly reducing one's risks of suffering a heart attack and other health problems.

Laughter is uplifting. It enriches a relationship by taking it to a deeper level where there is understanding and a mutual letting go of a person's inhibitions and reservations.

Laughing relaxes facial muscles that can become very tense especially on long working days. Plenty of laughter creates 'laugh lines' in a person's face, giving the person a kindly look, as opposed to wrinkles and creases caused by stress, unhappiness and hardship, which age a person and give him or her a hard and angry appearance.

This fact is important in forming first impressions, which play a role in others' acceptance of a person. It may even affect a job interview or working relationships; humans are occasionally shallow creatures and may assume that a person who looks grouchy is grouchy.

Laughter's importance can be observed in tense situations as well. It is used to defuse potentially explosive situations at times. Take my younger brother, aged eleven, for example. When he is naughty and utterly infuriating, he will resort to whatever means available to make the family laugh. This allows him to escape just punishment.

In friendships, laughter is essential to ensure a long-lasting relationship; in marriage, many women want a man who sees the funny side of life. A sense of humor is important to lift a relationship, and there is something special, almost intimate, in sharing a joke with a friend or spouse.

Laughter is uplifting. It enriches a relationship by taking it to a deeper level where there is understanding and a mutual letting go of a person's inhibitions and reservations.

Despite laughter's importance and benefits, there are certain rules to remember. One does not laugh when someone dies, one does not laugh at others' beliefs and one certainly does not laugh at those who suffer mishaps. There is a time and a place for everything, including laughter. While laughter brings joy and is very important in daily life, it is best directed at oneself, or at events that are not sensitive. We must always be conscious of others' sensitivities and respect others' beliefs.

Laughter can be dangerous, when it is mocking and derisive. It can be very hurtful when laughter is used to single out a person, race or creed. It can lead to violence and stereotypes-just look at all the 'dumb blonde' jokes-which can and probably will influence the psyche of others.

It is important to laugh, but also to keep in mind that we should laugh for the right reasons and in the right situations. No matter how funny a sensitive issue may seem to a person, it is probably wiser to control one's laughter and to have a private chuckle.

Laughing at oneself, on the other hand, is an endearing trait that lets a person take himself less seriously. It can even be profitable, as in the case of stand-up comedians and comics who put up theatrical performances which audiences willingly pay for.

The importance of laughter is, in my opinion, immense. It is a relief to know that across the world, laughter's importance is being emphasized by scientists, psychologists and health workers as well as by artists who make a living out of laughter.

In India, there is even a group of people called the Laugh Club who gather occasionally and laugh for a few minutes without stopping. Laughter is a powerful, wonderful thing. Amidst the drudgery and toil of life, in the depths of despair and even in our nadir of existence, if we can learn to laugh, we can learn to live, to press on.

Laughter is a reaffirmation of life. It is hope. Erma Bombeck was right. Don't wait to wish you could live your life over.

Last modified on Sunday, 08 May 2011 13:21
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Karen Elizabeth Angus

Karen was a high school student when she wrote this in 2000.

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