Why Laughing so Hard It Hurts Provides an Instant Boost in Happiness

Photo: Getty Images/Lucy Lambriex

A few years ago, a yoga teacher gave me a piece of advice I (try to) put into practice each day. "Anytime you start laughing," she said, "try to keep it up for as long as you possibly can." The idea was that by extending laughter for as long as your lungs will allow, you also maximize the hit of happiness chemical (endorphins!) flowing through your brain. Leaning in to the benefits of laughing out loud presents a free option for boosting your mood.

Endorphins are happiness chemicals prompted by exercise, spicy food, love, and orgasms, according to Scientific American. Your body responds by experiencing a buzz of sorts (similar to the one you feel after an intense treadmill session). The chemicals also help you tolerate pain. Why? Well, researchers believe that the abdominal exhaustion caused by intense belly laughter signals your body to produce more and more endorphins. You read that right: Chuckling over hilarious (timeless, really) Spongebob memes, could be giving you a low-key abdominal workout and a boost of joy at the very same time. ("Art thou feeling it now, Mr. Krabs?!")

The wellness world has caught on to the mega power of endorphins. Both laughter yoga and laughter meditation have emerged as extra-curricular offerings for relieving stress. As the Jefferson Center for Mental Health in Hoboken, New Jersey, explains on its website, human connection and laughter go together like peanut butter and jelly. So if you make it your business to schedule time with your bestie to LOL, but IRL, you'll both walk away feeling even more joyful.

This month, you can put all your happiness know-how into practice with Well+Good's Mental Wellness Challenge, which is offering up 30 days of inspo for boosting your brain health. Today's all about reviewing your to-do list, but guess what's on the schedule for Thursday? Yep, and endorphin-inducing belly laugh sparked by a TV show of your choosing. Just remember, when the incomparable Rebecca Bunch makes a joke on Crazy Ex Girlfriend, laugh for a little longer than is truly merited. Your mental health will high five you for it.

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