Why aren’t I happy?

Patricia Furness-Smith's 'Well-being - A Practical Guide' tells us how to embrace humour


Why aren't I happy?

They say that 'laughter is the best medicine' and there is an abundance of evidence to support this claim.

Laughter is therapeutic because:

  • It facilitates cardiovascular activity by increasing blood flow, and it improves blood vessel functionality, all of which protects the heart.
  • It improves muscle relaxtion by releasing muscle tension in the facial, abdominal and back areas, and this in turn reduces the stress signals sent to the brain. So, you will always feel more supple after a hearty laughter workout!
  • It inhibits the release of stress hormones (for example, adrenaline and cortisol) and increases the number of antibodies (for example, T-cells, Gamma-interferon) released, which will boost your immune system, making you more resistant to disease and infection
  • It causes the release of endorphins – your body's feelgood chemicals.Endorphins not only make us feel happy and increase our confidence and sense of wellbeing, but they also act as powerful analgesics for pain relief. Laughter is by far the cheapest and most efficient mood-enhancer available.
  • It is often shaed with others so can help towards forging or strengthening bonds in relationships and promoting shared business.
  • It can be used as a way of defusing tension in a difficult situation.
  • Genuine laughter, as opposed to nervous laughter, is a very attractive and infectious commodity, which tends to draw people towards us. It sends out signals of confidence and spontaneity and shows a lack of defensiveness and inhibition.
  • There is even evidence that laughter increases memory, alertness, the ability to learn and creativity, according to research conducted at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Extract from Well-being: A Practical Guide by Patrica Furness-Smith (Icon Books, £6.99), out now