Lighten Up! Why it’s important (and okay) to laugh

April 20, 2016   Haven Lindsey

“I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.”


There’s a saying that you only need three bones to have a successful life: a backbone, a wishbone, and a funny bone.

If you or someone you love are among the millions of Americans struggling with addiction, you know all too well how it feels to live with the fear, uncertainty, and anxiety that often accompanies active addiction and early recovery. These feelings often present themselves in the form of dread, doubt, confusion, and frustration. Laughter is not typically among the mix and a funny bone can help.

A sense of humor can prove to be very helpful when going through stressful situations – for some, adopting humor as a coping mechanism is the first step to enjoying a healthy, more balanced life again. Everyone benefits from a good laugh and laughter has shown to help relieve tension and stress. Being able to laugh makes our problems seem less foreboding.

“I knew exactly where it was, I just couldn’t find it.”


Despite the notion of having an actual funny bone, no such bone actually exists in our bodies, yet we can certainly have one in our minds. In other words, we all have an innate ability to perceive a situation in a different light, with a different lens and a different perspective, and sometimes doing so with humor is very fitting.

Like most things, if something doesn’t come naturally to us, we can practice and work on it. When we are going through stressful and challenging times, being able to laugh may seem careless and futile, yet in reality it may be the best thing for us. Adults don’t laugh nearly as often as children, in fact, studies show that the average four-year old laughs 300 times a day and the average 40-year old laughs four times a day. When adults experience chronically stressful situations (such as struggling with addiction and or early recovery), it can be easy to think that laughter is a selfish act.

Genuine laughter however, makes us feel good and those positive emotions can be contagious, helping others around us feel good too. Much like the effect exercise has on the body, the more we laugh, the better we feel, the better we feel, the more we laugh, and in time we find we are better equipped to handle stressful situations because our perspective has broadened.

The question is how to do we learn to laugh more often and more freely without feeling silly, self-conscious, or even guilty for doing so?

  • Notice when other people are laughing and enjoying a situation…and if you aren’t laughing, join in. You can ‘fake it, ‘till you make it’ with laughter. Make yourself laugh, it gets easier.
  • Get in the habit of reading comic strips that make you smile, eventually you’ll discover that you’re laughing out loud.
  • Spend time with people who have a sense of humor, you’ll laugh more and you’ll feel good being in their presence.
  • Tune in to a favorite comedian, comedy station, or a radio show known for being funny.
  • Allow yourself to laugh. It’s ok to do so regardless of what you and/or your loved ones are going through. Laughter increases blood flow, raises the level of infection-fighting antibodies, lowers blood sugar levels, and helps us relax which encourages a better night’s sleep. Laughter signals the release of the body’s natural endorphin’s, which helps ease pain and makes you feel good all over.

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.”

We all go through challenging times, we all hurt, and we all feel pain. Laughter has the ability to increase our overall well-being regardless of what life may be dishing out. Surround yourself with people and things that make you laugh and soon you may become aware of a noise in the background only to realize it’s the sound of your own laughter.

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