In response to humour, the reward network in the limbic system of the brain gets activated. This results in a pleasurable emotional response which is expressed through smiles, chuckles or laughs.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good, hearty laugh? We read funny stories, watch comedy movies and TV shows, and even listen to prank calls on the radio–anything to tickle our funny bone. A sense of humour can make us forget our problems, even if only for a few moments, and make us happy. “In the reception of humor, we take in information (something someone says or does, or something we read) through our eyes and ears, process the meaning of this information, and appraise it as non-serious, playful, and humourous,” writes psychology professor Rod A. Martin in his book The Psychology of Humor: An Integrated Approach.
Going by Martin’s explanation, enjoying humour not only kindles our cognitive mind but also affects our emotional state. In response to humour, the reward network in the limbic system of the brain gets activated. This results in a pleasurable emotional response which is expressed through smiles, chuckles or laughs. As Martin puts it, “Whenever we laugh at something funny, we are experiencing an emotional high that is rooted in the biochemistry of our brains.”
Children laugh up to 300 to 400 times a day whereas adults laugh barely 15 times a day.
Try as we might, finding humour in every situation is not that easy. Not all of us have the talent to look for humour in mundane situations.
What is the connection between humour and psychological well-being?
Humour contributes to our psychological well-being by providing an “emotional high.” It helps release endorphins, which are happy hormones and can serve as a cost-effective tool for stress relief, anxiety management, and even coping with conditions like depression.
Can humour improve physical well-being?
Yes, humour has been linked to various physical health benefits. Studies suggest that humour and laughter can boost immunity and lower blood pressure.
How can we cultivate a sense of humour?
Cultivating a sense of humour involves changing our perspective and how we perceive situations. Even if we don’t naturally find a situation funny, the act of laughing can help develop a sense of humour over time.