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Have You Laughed Today?

Posted on July 18th, 2013 by Dr. Nikoo Daftary

As we get older, life brings along more responsibilities and stress, and we tend to lose the habit of smiling and laughing. The care-free attitude of childhood seems to be lost on us, but in reality we should take the lead from children and make more room in life to express happiness.
According to research, smiling and laughing contribute to our health and well-being. When we laugh, a number of physiological changes occur in our body:
1. Endorphins are released when you smile.
Endorphins are triggered by the movement of muscles in your face, which is interpreted by your brain, which in turn releases the chemicals. Faking a smile or laugh works just as well as the real thing – our brains can’t differentiate between real or fake as it interprets the positioning of facial muscles the same way – which is known as the facial feedback hypothesis. The more we stimulate our brain to release endorphins the more often we feel happy and relaxed.
2. Endorphins lower stress and make us feel happier.
They also act as the body’s natural pain killers. For those who suffer from chronic pain, laughing and smiling can be very effective in pain management, as can laughing off the pain when you bump your elbow or fall over.
3. While the release of endorphins is increased, cortisol is reduced.
Cortisol is a stress hormone, and is more active when we feel stressed or anxious. It contributes to any unpleasant feelings we experience, and by lowering it we can reduce those feelings.
4. Laughing expands the lungs, stretches the muscles in the body and stimulates homeostasis. 
This replenishes the cells from a lungful of oxygen and gives our body all the same benefits as exercising.
5. A good laugh is an effective way to release emotions.
Laughing can help release those emotions you may bottle up inside. Everything looks a bit better after a laugh and life is seen from a more positive perspective. Smiling and laughing have positive social benefits as well.
6. A smiling person is a more attractive person.
You appear more approachable when you smile and are more likely to draw people to you. Interaction is easier and more enjoyable when smiles and laughs are shared, and these behaviors will make others feel better as well. This will in turn have a positive effect on your well-being.
7. A happy expression will serve you well in life. 
This is true especially in challenging situations like job interviews – smiling and being relaxed exudes confidence and the ability to cope well in stressful situations. You will carry that along into your career by building healthy relationships with coworkers and being seen in a favorable light by employers.
So enjoy a good laugh today – you and those around you will feel better!
 
 
 
Courtesy of Lifehack
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/7-benefits-smiling-and-laughing.html

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