Reasons to laugh
There are multiple good reasons to laugh more.
Let's look first at our brain chemistry. Serotonin is the fuel of our limbic system which is in charge of the emotional center of the brain. How much serotonin we have has a lot to do with how we view our world. When we have sufficient serotonin, we feel optimistic, happy, satisfied, content , fulfilled and it's easier to find reasons to laugh.
Women, who are the more emotional species, have bigger limbic systems than men. For this reason they also need more serotonin to keep their limbic system healthy than men.
However, part of the problem is that mens’ brains store more serotonin than women and replace it way faster. Herein lies a logical explanation for why more women than men comfort eat.
When women are stressed, they use up serotonin eight times faster than men which can lead to them feeling overwhelmed, worried, anxious, sorrowful, distressed or resentful.
In effect what women are experiencing as a result of a fall in serotonin is a heart hunger, not a tummy hunger. When we don't understand why we're being driven to eat - it’s easy to be hi-jacked into eating foods such as ice-cream and pasta boost because they do give our serotonin levels a temporary boost.
However, what would have replenished those serotonin levels without all the extra calories and guilt (and often extra sugar intake too) would be:
• finding reasons to laugh - laughter is great fuel for serotonin
• talking and sharing the problem with a friend,
• doing something that involves co-operation or collaboration
• holding hands or having a cuddle.
With reasons to laugh - we can laugh ourselves lighter.
Laughter burns calories
Researchers think that a good laugh a day helps with weight problems too - if you're weight obsessed finding reasons to laugh migh have a double benefit.
Firstly you'll live more joyously, no matter what your'e laughing about - so no matter what your reasons for laugh are, it's good for your health and immune system.
And, if you're looking for an additional edge in the weight war, scientists have found that 10-15 minutes of genuine giggling can burn off the amount of calories found in a medium square of chocolate. Laughing releases endorphins that are great for our health.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, recruited 45 pairs of friends and put them in a special room to 'watch movies' so they could measure how much energy the burned depending on the amount of carbon dioxide they exhaled.
The first half- hour was of a pretty bland landscape during which baseline measurements were taken. Then participants were given reasons to laugh by viewing five different Cosby show clips interspersed with clips of sheep wandering in the countryside.
And hey, look at this: Participants burned up 20% more calories when laughing than when they weren’t. Researchers calculated that a person could burn up to 50 calories depending on their body size and the intensity of the laughter.
On average if you find reasons to laugh for 10-15 minutes a day, you’d use enough calories to lose 4.4 pounds (2 kg) a year.
But don’t laugh just to lose weight. Laugh because it feels great, because it is healthy for you and just because we take ourselves way, way too seriously and its time we lightened up. Research, conducted at Graz University in Austria, showed that when one group did only movement exercises and another did laughter yoga, it:
• helped people recovering from strokes lower their blood pressure.
• the mood improved in both groups but more noticeably so in the laughter group.
• participants also said they felt “more awake” and “less stressed”.
Finding reasons to laugh
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Zoe - United States
I can't believe Oprah hasn't interviewed you on her show yet!