What’s So Funny?: The Power of Laughing

Senior Ryan Jones, and sophomores Max Adams and Olivia Billis agree that laughing is good for people.

Senior Ryan Jones, and sophomores Max Adams and Olivia Billis agree that laughing is good for people.

Senior Ryan Jones, and sophomores Max Adams and Olivia Billis agree that laughing is good for people.

Lia Scala, Reporter

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To many, laughing comes easily and often. Laughing generally feels good and even helps to improve mood. To better understand this phenomenon of laughing, scientists have further researched more in-depth about the art of laughing.

According to Northwestern Now, there is a study with evidence to suggest that there is a certain gene variant- the short alleles of the gene 5-HTTLPR- that is found in those who tended to smile and laugh more while watching cartoons or subtly being amused as opposed to those with long alleles.

The research was conducted in the laboratories of Dacher Keltner and Robert W. Levenson at the University of California, Berkeley with co-authors Claudia M. Haase of Northwestern University and Ursula Beermann of the University of Geneva.

In the study, the scientists observed the short and long alleles of the gene 5-HTTLPR, which is responsible for the regulation of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which according to Medical News Today, is associated with maintaining mood balance. The neurotransmitter can be implicated with depression and anxiety as well as emotions on the opposite end of the spectrum such as happiness.

In previous years, studies have come to the conclusion that the gene 5-HTTLPR was linked with negative emotions, but as this new study suggests, the gene is also linked to positive emotions. In the latest study, it has been suggesting that those with short alleles are more apt to feel the “emotional highs of life.”

In the article “Researchers Say Common Genetic Variant May Be Associated With Positive Expressions,” co-author Haase had something to say: “Having the short allele is not bad or risky,” said Haase, an assistant professor in the Human Development and Social Policy program at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy. “Instead, the short allele amplifies emotional reactions to both good and bad environments.”

“Our study provides a more complete picture of the emotional life of people with the short allele,” Haase added. “People with short alleles may flourish in a positive environment and suffer in a negative one, while people with long alleles are less sensitive to environmental conditions.”

The reason behind why people laugh is still up in the air.

When you laugh so hard it hurts, it means you’re overcome with happy feelings and that feels amazing.”

— Sophomore Olivia Billis

According to Harvard Health Publications, “Why this happens is all speculation. Miller and William Fry, a psychiatrist at Stanford University School of Medicine who began studying the effects of laughter on the cardiovascular system in the 1970s, hypothesize that brain chemicals called endorphins, which are released during mirthful laughter, latch onto opiate receptors in the lining of blood vessels. This interaction stimulates blood vessels to release nitric oxide, a molecule known to relax arteries. Relaxed arteries are more flexible and wider, permitting easier blood flow.”

When asked if they enjoy laughing, senior Alicia Labrecque replied, “It’s one of my favorite pastimes. That’s a very weird question. I don’t know how to answer that. There’s so much joy that comes along with laughing, and it’s always nice to be happy. Laughing is a huge sign of joy and if you’re able to share the joy laughing then do it, also abs because Audrey Hepburn may or may not have said: “If you laugh hard enough then you can get abs.”

Sophomore Olivia Billis said, “It feels good to laugh because it is a way that we release happy emotions. When you laugh so hard it hurts, it means you’re overcome with happy feelings and that feels amazing.”

Senior Ryan Jones stated that “laughing is the best feeling in the world, it just takes whatever else is happening in your life and pushes it to the side for a few moments of pure happiness.”

Sophomore Ellie Lokken disclosed, “I believe it feels good to laugh, and not like those fake giggles. The best kind is when something is so funny that you just can’t stop laughing, no matter how hard you try.”

Senior Emily Borysewicz proclaimed, “I like laughing because it makes me smile and I always feel like I’m in a better mood after I laugh. It feels good because sometimes when I laugh it makes other people laugh too.

Laughing is a pastime that some don’t think much about. It strikes deeply in each individual and has a great importance and impact on many.

When asked if laughing was of importance, Billis replied, “Laughing is definitely important because if I can’t laugh once in awhile, it can get pretty depressing. Laughing improves my mood, and being in a good mood is important to me.”

Borysewicz expressed, “Laughing is important because it makes people in a better mood. And it is healthy because it lets people relax and endorphins release so people feel better.”

Sophomore Max Adams asserted, “it’s important to me because if I’m not laughing I’m not having fun.”

Jones affirmed, “Laughing is very important to me because I love to make people laugh whenever I can.”

Lokken stated, “laughing is important to me because it helps me express my feelings. If I’m happy or find something funny, laughter is usually my go-to to express my emotions.”

Labrecque said, “I think laughing is important because it’s a stress reliever. While you’re laughing, you can’t help but he happy. You’re not as stressed, and you can bask in your happiness.”

Without a doubt for many, laughing is a good sensation.

Billis declared, “I love laughing because it reassures me that I am happy at the moment and I am having fun. Laughing is a reaction to hearing something funny or just positive in general. Laughing and being happy go hand in hand, and I like to feel happy as much as I can.”

Lokken said, “I enjoy laughing because it shows that I’m truly happy, which is always a good thing to be.”

To Labrecque, “[laughter] feels breathtaking, in the most literal sense. Laughing feels good because it accompanies a happy feeling, and being happy is something that everyone should try to be as often as possible. Laughing can also act as a sort of stress reliever, and it always feels great to not be stressed.”

Many have heard others saying that there is an art to laughing, which can take on various meanings.

In Lokken’s opinion:“I don’t think there’s a specific art to laughing, but I do think that it’s wrong to laugh if something isn’t funny. Fake laughing is like faking emotions, which is like covering up a truth.

Labrecque expressed, “I don’t believe so. I don’t even think I could control my laughing. Whether it’s a deep belly laugh or more of a giggle or chuckle, I think laughing isn’t something that can be consciously controlled, but rather something jay you can help but let out.”

Jones said, “Laughing is one of my favorite things to do because comedy is an underrated art.”

Laughing is a workout for many and many can attest that it even makes them feel healthier.

Labrecque agreed, “Laughing is extremely healthy. It makes you feel so good, and happy after, and nothing about happiness is unhealthy. Additionally, if you get into a laughing fit, it’s a good workout for your abdominal muscles. There is really no downside to laughing.”

Billis stated, “I think laughing is healthy. It is good for mental health and it connects people.”

Jones said, “I think laughter is healthy because it can release stress very effectively.”

Lokken added, “I’ve always been told that laughing is healthy because it works out your core muscles, but it’s also beneficial because laughter is often related to happiness. When one is happy, a chemical that aids the body in creating antibodies is released in greater quantities. These antibodies help ward off infection, which also can help with health.”

I think laughing is important because it’s a stress reliever. While you’re laughing, you can’t help but he happy. You’re not as stressed, and you can bask in your happiness.”

— Senior Alicia Labrecque

Many would agree that it is important to laugh and laugh every day.

Billis said, “I’m not sure if I laugh enough because I don’t know if there is such thing as a healthy requirement for how much people laugh. I laugh a decent amount, but sometimes I feel like I should be laughing more. Other times I think I’m overdoing it and laughing too much. It all depends on the situation.”

Lokken commented, “ I hope I laugh enough, honestly. I always think I could do more, but for now, I feel like I laugh enough.”

The reason behind why people laugh differs for the individual.

In response, Lokken revealed, “It really depends. Usually, I laugh if I find something funny. If I were to reveal another reason I laugh, it kind of contradicts one of my other answers because I sometimes laugh as a way out of awkward situations, or pretend like a joke is funny, even if it isn’t.”

Jones stated, “ I think people laugh out of instinct but I am not sure.”

Billis revealed, “I think laughing just happens to be what our body does naturally in reaction to experiencing something amusing/happy/enjoyable in one way or another. Everyone laughs at different things and in different ways. I don’t think there should be a way people are supposed to laugh to achieve ultimate happiness or anything because the happiest laugh is your own natural laugh. If a laugh is forced or you are trying to make it sound like something else, then it isn’t real and you can’t enjoy laughing.”

Whether one laughs because it’s an instinct or laughs because one wants to feel happier, laughing takes on some role in each person’s life. There may be a scientific reason why certain people laugh more than others, but in the end, laughter is a feel-good pastime that anyone can enjoy.


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