Laughter: It’s Not Medicine, But It Sure Can Heal

Laughter: It’s Not Medicine, But It Sure Can Heal

No one is ever more him/herself than when they really laugh. Their defenses are down. It’s very Zen-like, that moment. They are completely open, completely themselves when that message hits the brain and the laugh begins. That’s when new ideas can be implanted. If a new idea slips in at that moment, it has a chance to grow.

George Carlin

There are many paths to emotional wellness. Part of the joy and challenge of living is finding which of these path(s) work best for us.

For some of us, therapy is an important part of our journey.

For others, it’s emotional support from the ones we love.

Or gratitude. Self-compassion. Mindfulness. Healthy boundary-setting.

But, when it comes to emotional wellness, perhaps one of the simplest and most universal tools we have is the ability to laugh.

In honor of National Let’s Laugh Day tomorrow, we’re paying tribute to this basic truth:

Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it certainly has the power to heal.

Read on for 4 important ways laughter promotes emotional wellness:

1. Laughter as self-care.

If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.


When was the last time you took a break to bring a little laughter into your day?

Doing this on a regular basis not only feels great, it also can help boost your body’s resilience to stress.

Like other forms of self-care, this doesn’t need to be complicated… every extra bit of laughter helps!

Try this:

  • Listen to a funny podcast on your commute instead of the news.
  • Create a playlist of comedy stations on your digital device. Rotate it in with your usual music throughout the week.
  • Watch blooper reels from your favorite TV shows (HINT: search by show on YouTube).
  • Keep a notebook of quotes that make you laugh. Flip through it when you need a break in the day.
  • Learn a new joke or two. Share them with the next person you meet.

2. Laughter as repair.

Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.

Bob Newhart

When you’re in the midst of a tense argument or difficult interaction, humor probably feels like the furthest thing from your mind.

The evidence is clear, however:

Those who can pause during a disagreement and find even mild humor in the situation are significantly more likely to effectively defuse the conflict.

This is also the case after conflict has taken place.

So, when it comes to relationships, you can almost always benefit from a little humor.

Try this:

  • BEFORE: Come up with a silly code word that you and your partner can use when you feel an argument veering into unhealthy territory. When someone says the code word, it’s time to pause and take a break before resuming the conversation.
  • DURING: If it feels appropriate, try defusing tension during an argument by making a little joke at your own expense (e.g., referencing a past interaction when you displayed less than ideal behavior), and emphasize that you’d like to handle things more maturely this time.
  • AFTER: After conflict has taken place, find an opportunity to inject some gentle humor into their day, as an “olive branch” and honest attempt at repairing the relationship.

3. Laughter as connection.

Everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter is a universal connection.

Jakob Smirnoff

As crowded and chaotic as our lives are, it’s normal to feel disconnected and lonely from time to time.

(If you feel this way more often then not, it could be a sign that you could use additional support.)

For most of us, laughter can be a powerful way to bridge connections with the world around us.

Try this:

  • Attend a live stand-up show or open mic night at your local comedy club. Savor the experience of laughing along with a room full of strangers.
  • Search YouTube for videos of babies laughing. Note the similarities across language and location.
  • Tell a “group story” as a family: Start by making up the first line of a story, then let the next person take a turn adding the next part of the story, and continue through as many rounds as you like. (TIP: This can be a good way to pass the time on a long car ride, in a waiting room, etc.).
  • Help a child learn parts of speech by filling out a Mad Libs story together. (You can buy a book of them or search for free templates online.)
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile and share a funny memory of something you experienced together.

4. Laughter as coping.

At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.

Jean Houston

As you become more practiced at weaving laughter into your daily life, you’ll naturally start recognizing it as a tool for self-care, connection, and relationship repair.

But it also can be a potent antidote in the face of difficult experiences.

When life becomes especially stressful, laughter is a coping strategy you always carry with you.

Try this:

  • Give yourself permission to find the humor in painful experiences. (For inspiration and encouragement in doing this, check out this podcast).
  • Take a few minutes to journal after you’ve found yourself laughing. Often, we’re able to access new observations and insights when we’re in a different frame of mind.
  • Let your loved ones see you laughing during challenging times. This not only eases their mind of excess concern, it models humor as a coping tool that they can use, as well.

Enjoy this post? You might also like:

The Trick Is Treating Yourself to Self-Care
3 Myths About Happiness (and What to Believe Instead)
How to Practice Gratitude When You’re Not Feeling Particularly Grateful

Ready to learn how laughter can help you live your best story?