Too Many Reasons Why Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Your sense of humor has tons of health benefits — and that's no joke.

It's no joke that laughter is seriously good for you. According to the Mayo Clinic, having a good sense of humor garners both short and long-term physical and mental health benefits. 

Because laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, it can stimulate organs such as your heart, lungs, and muscles, as well as increase the endorphins released by your brain. Not only that, but laughter can "fire up" and then "cool down" your stress response, stimulate circulation, and aid muscle relaxation, which can help decrease some of the physical symptoms of stress.


In the long-term, laughter can even improve your immune system. Negative thoughts can manifest into chemical reactions in the body by bringing more stress into your system, which decreases your immunity. Positive thoughts, however, can release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more serious illnesses. Laughter can also ease, and even relieve pain, by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. With long-term mental health, laughter can improve your mood, helping people cope with difficult situations and connect with others.

It's clear the health benefits of humor are no laughing matter. There can never be too many reasons why laughter is the best medicine, so we asked six New Yorkers why laughter is so meaningful to them. 


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"I laugh all the time ... Sometimes my cheeks hurt a lot because I'm always laughing. And to me, it's just because the laughter comes from the heart, so it's just filled with joy. And if you have joy in your life, you don't have to worry about anything." - Ray Araujo


"I think laughter is very helpful because it gets us from the saddest of situations, even in the most chaotic of worlds. We laugh through a lot of things so we don't cry. I know a lot of comedy shows and a lot of things have kept me emotionally going... If I can tell the sort of stories that connect me with other people — that can generally get the kind of joke — I can form bonds that I usually couldn't in other ways." - David Morris 


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"I think the best comedy surprises you ... I've been married almost 50 years, and if my wife is angry or out of sorts, if I can make her laugh, that does a tremendous amount. Also, if you're stressed out, it's the way to ease that ... as we know, the less stress we have, the healthier we can be." - Lew Gardner


"I think if you have a hard day, it's kind of like a good way to just kind of, like, relax... Sometimes [if] you have a bad day, and you just see something really funny, just burst out laughing, you suddenly feel a whole lot better... If you're laughing, you know that nothing's wrong." - Lena Kasen


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"You can be in a bad mood and, all of a sudden, you start laughing, and you'll feel great. It's euphoric ... The funniest things in life are the truth, but a lot of the truth can be very tragic at times ... Some people reach back to experiences that were less desirable that they wouldn't talk about so much, but if you talk about it in a laughing manner, like telling a funny story, it's a little easier to swallow. And it's healing. Some people may have not spoken about a certain event that happened in their life until they actually sat back and laughed about it." - Pee Wee Dee


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"I think laughter is the best medicine, first of all, because it's free. You don't have to pay to laugh with your friends and just have a good time ... Also, I just love how it's a physical response to joy. So it's just a full body experience where you're just living with happiness and reacting to it. I think it's a really great and beautiful thing. Some of my fondest memories are of laughing with friends or just having a good time and being silly and laughing so hard your stomach hurts." - Carina Goebelbecker


"It helps, especially when you're thinking or doing stuff that's depressing... I had moments when I was feeling depressed, and I turned on the TV to something funny. In that moment, it lifted my spirits... Laughter always helps in those situations. It takes your mind off it, it kind of focuses you on something fun. You need that. It's like, you either laugh or cry, so I'd rather laugh than cry." - Eugene Levant 


"I think laughter is the best medicine because it's like a chain reaction when one person starts laughing, other people can't help laughing as well. It's like music, it brings people together, and sometimes you can laugh at yourself, which is even more awesome." - Marissa Lelogeais 


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"It's a coping mechanism. Laughter is something you do to get over issues and problems, or even grievances, because it's your first [step] towards healing. Not only is it that, but it's a great way to connect to people ... Whenever I perform comedy, there's nothing like uniting a whole room of strangers through laughter ... When people laugh they're experiencing something sort of childlike and enthusiastic and fun." - Michael Harrison


"Because it's human and it's natural. It's a physiological response to something... We have this moment of losing control over what our body's doing, and it's this beautiful reminder that we're human, and we're still alive, and we can be present for this very moment. Whatever clouds were in our heads from hardships of the past or ahead, there's a moment of clarity that comes with laughter." - Preston Burger 


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"I think laughter is the best medicine because it just frees your soul and makes you feel so good, and it can see you through the most difficult situations ... Four years ago, my brother passed away, and nothing was funny for three months, and then when something was funny, it was really really funny. It just lifted a whole weight off my shoulders ... That was like the catapult to laughing again, so it freed my soul, basically. It made me feel free again." - Ashley Alexandra

And if all those reasons haven't convinced you that we all need a healthy dose of laughter, here's one more:

HBO's "Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs" has been using the positive power of laughter to raise more than $24 million dollars to support autism schools, programs, and services. Hosted by Jon Stewart, this year's live benefit event will take place at Madison Square Garden on November 18, featuring too many just enough of Hollywood's funniest comedians, including Stephen Colbert, Abbi Jacobson, Jordan Klepper, Hasan Minhaj, John Mulaney, John Oliver, and Adam Sandler.

Tune into the live event broadcasted on HBO on November 18 at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT. 

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