The Mysterious Laugh

Laughing is something everyone does. But have you ever stopped to think about why you laugh?

The reasoning behind our laughter is complex.

New York Times

The reasoning behind our laughter is complex.

Brandon Dosen, Columnist

Laughing is something our body does without thinking, just like breathing or chewing. Whenever you find something funny, you laugh. But when you stop to think about it, it isn’t quite that simple. When people dislike the experience they still can laugh. If it isn’t funny, why laugh? Not only that, but why is there a need for laughter? Laughing seems to be just someone making a distinct sound. 

According to NBC News, “when we laugh, we alter our facial expressions and make sounds. During exuberant laughter, the muscles of the arms, legs and trunk are involved. Laughter also requires modification in our pattern of breathing.” So while the thought of laughing is often restricted to a simple active voice, it actually affects most of the body. It’s not just your voice that changes, it’s everything.

The reason for this controlling process, however, is the real mystery. Later on, NBC News states, “Very little is known about the specific brain mechanisms responsible for laughter.” And so the reasoning for laughter has been left up to the imagination of everyone. So while laughter seems to be connected, it seems to have some sort of connection with other things as well. For example, tickling. Tickling is well known for causing laughter. The only problem is that tickling isn’t funny. Not only that, but people can laugh almost randomly. Laughing can even start just by watching someone else. Laughing is indeed contagious; you laugh just because you see someone else do it.

What’s even stranger is the fact that some people laugh uncontrollably for no reason. Pathological laughing is a real condition. According to Oregon Providence, “Pathological laughing and crying is often a change from a patient’s baseline control of emotion and occurs in the setting of neurologic disease, which suggests that it is not psychological.” So for some, laughing can even be something of a nuisance.

A popular phrase states “laughter is the best medicine,” and as it turns out, it’s true. In fact, some people use a process called Laughing Therapy. Laughing has more benefits than just calming stress. According to the AARP, “physicians agree that laughing has a positive impact on the circulatory, immune and other bodily systems.” as well as stating “Laughter, experts say, boosts mental functions, mental alertness, memory, and interpersonal responsiveness.” Laughter is important and actually affects your life. It can affect how you react to things and even pain and sickness. Just the simple task of laughing can help you from illness.

Laughing is a state of both mind and body where not very much is known about. What has been inferred about laughter can easily be changed, and already has. Laughing is much bigger than most people seem to believe.