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Laugh and the World Laughs with You

Updated on June 21, 2012

Laugh and the world laughs with you; Weep and you weep alone”                                                 -Ella Wheller Wilcox

These are the first lines in the poem “Solitude” that Ella Wheller Wilcox published in 1883. Story is that the lines were inspired by a crying widow she met on a train.

So, does the world really laugh with us when we laugh? Let’s find out.


What is laughter or laugh?

­Encyclopedia Britannica defines laughter as, "rhythmic, vocalized, expiratory and involuntary actions" while the Free (online) Dictionary defines laugh as - “To express certain emotions, especially mirth or delight, by a series of spontaneous, usually unarticulated sounds often accompanied by corresponding facial and bodily movements”.

Notice that both definitions talk about sound, accompanied by some involuntary body movements. That means that when you make sounds that is called as ‘laughter’ or a ‘laugh’, changes occur in many of your body parts especially in the respiratory, nervous, muscular and circulatory systems.

It is said that when you laugh, 15 facial muscles contract and your upper lip is lifted while your lower jaw opens. At the same time your epiglottis half-closes your larynx such that air movement to your throat and lungs becomes irregular and you create sounds like “ha ha ha” or “he he he” or “ho ho ho” and some other such similar sounds. Sometimes, your tear glands are also stimulated so it’s not uncommon to see people laughing and crying at the same time.

I think this video, “I Love to Laugh” from Mary Poppins, best describes what laughter is and what happens when you laugh.

I Love to Laugh

When Do You Laugh?

I laugh when

See results

Why Do We Laugh?

 Many studies show that laughter is a kind of bonding activity. It somehow establishes connection, and the closer the people are to each other, the more relaxed and frequent laughter is.  

Close friends can laugh at almost anything even about things that others outside the group do not find funny at all. So laughter is not just about something funny, but it’s also more about camaraderie and bonding.

Do you remember the joke about the person who was invited to a joke club? It goes something like this...

Man A invites his friend Man B to his club meeting. Man A told his friend that the members of his club are so comfortable with each other and already know each others’ jokes such that they have assigned numbers to their jokes. So during meetings, you don’t have to say a joke anymore but you just say a number and everybody laughs. True enough, Man B observed that this is so. A member would call out a number, like “78” or “100” and everybody starts laughing. After listening to the almost non-stop laughter, Man B asked if he could try saying a number too to join in the fun. Man B called out “65”, but to his surprise, there was no laughter. Everyone just looked at him politely. Man B asked Man A “Why did nobody laugh when I said ‘65’?” Man A answered “It’s the way you said the joke (number)”.

It is believed that laughter started as a kind of shared relief from the passing of danger. After some dangerous hunting activity people go back to their caves. There, they share stories and laughter as a reliever of tension. So this calms people down after being in a flight-or-fight situation. This is probably one reason why you exhibit ‘nervous laughter’ when you are tense. 

Do you notice how people laugh when somebody in authority starts laughing? Studies show that dominant individuals like boss, father, or even teachers and speakers use humor to more or less control the emotional atmosphere of a group. Laughter puts people at ease or in a relaxed mood, so it becomes easier to bring across a point or even to avoid an embarrassing or a threatening situation.

Is Laughter Really the Best Medicine?

Well, I’m not sure that it is really the best medicine for every illness but based on many studies, laughter can indeed produce over-all good health and well-being.

What can laughter do?

  • Produces positive effects on the circulatory and respiratory systems

At the start of laughter, your pulse and blood pressures go up. However, as you go on laughing, your body releases chemicals that relax your blood vessels. You also breath faster so this increases blood flow and oxygenation of the blood. The over-all effect is then a lowered blood pressure and more oxygenation to your cells and tissues.

  • Exercises the heart, diaphragm, abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles

Some researchers have estimated that laughing about 100 times or about a minute of hearty laughter can give an aerobic workout equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike.

Well, does this mean that you don’t have to pay anymore gym fees to get some workout? Maybe? Why not, if you just do some funny exercises.

  • Boosts the immune system

Studies have shown that a bout of laughter increases the number of T and B cells as well as the amount of antibodies and interferon. T and B cells are the major cells of our immune system. T cells directly attack infectious and abnormal cells while B cells produce antibodies that immobilize infectious agents. Interferon is a protein produced by cells against viral and parasitic infections.

A healthy dose of laughter is also a good defense against respiratory infections. It even reduces the frequency of colds because it increases the amount of immunoglobulins or antibodies in the saliva.

  • Reduces/relieves stress

Studies show that blood levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline decreased rapidly in subjects who viewed a funny video as opposed to those who viewed only a regular video.

At the same time, laughter also makes nerve endings release endorphins. Endorphins have pain-relieving effects. Thus laughter lessens or removes your aches and pains.

  • Increases memory, learning and creativity

I observed this first hand during my many years of teaching. Students always performed better if I use humor during my lectures and my exams. Of course I did not make any actual controlled studies. However, the effects of humor are perceptible. This is probably because students are more relaxed and alert if lessons are interspersed with laughter. Even a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School showed that test scores improved if humor is used in lessons.

According to humor researcher, William Fry, M.D., of Stanford University, humor and creativity work in similar ways. Both engage the whole brain by creating relationships between two seemingly disconnected items. Thus, humor and the laughter associated with it promote whole brain activity. Anything that engages the whole brain develops more creativity.

  • Produces positive psychological effects

Psychologists note that some people instead of expressing negative emotions like anger, fear, and sadness often keep these bottled inside such that they become bundles of emotions waiting to erupt. This leads to all kinds of ailments if kept “bottled” for long periods of time. Laughter usually helps dissipate these negative emotions. So if you laugh, these emotions are released without producing harm.

This kind of psychological effect is often used by film makers or writers. After some prolonged tense moment, an innocent remark or action is introduced in the movie or novel to produce what is called as “comic relief”.

When you laugh, your serotonin level also goes up. Serotonin is released by your nerve endings and is known as a "feel good"chemical. This is the reason why you always feel good after a hearty laugh.

Remember Patch Adams? He always used laughter as part of his ‘prescribed’ medicine.

Do you know that because of Patch Adams, “laughter therapy” is now being recommended by more and more mental health professionals?

So, if laughter produces all these good effects, a healthy dose of laughter is all you need to get rid of many of your aches and pains and maybe even other illnesses. Don’t you agree?

Check out these other hubs on laughter:



How Can You Put More Laughter Into Your Life?

  • Associate more with happy and funny people.
  • Know what makes you laugh and do it more often
  • Watch funny movies
  • Learn some jokes and try telling them to friends
  • Become a stand-up comedian
  • Join a laughter group

Is laughter contagious?

Try watching people laugh. Or start laughing at something and see how others respond.

Two young boys were sitting outside a clinic. One of them was crying very loudly.
2nd Child: Why are you crying?
1st Child: I came here for blood test.
2nd Child: So? Are you afraid?
1st Child: No. Not that. For the blood test, they cut my finger.
        At this, the second one started crying. The first one was astonished.
1st Child: Why are you crying now?
2nd Child: I have come for my urine test!

More Info About Laughter

Do you know that there is a branch of science that studies laughter? It is called gelotology. This comes from the Greek words, gelos, geloto meaning laugh, laughter, laughing. This field studies humor and laughter, its effects on the human body including medical abnormalities of laughing. Psychological effects are also included in the study.

Do you notice that happy people do not get sick as often as morose or sad people?


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    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 months ago from sunny Florida

      We in my family subscribe to the healthful effects of laughter. Laughter helps keep the positive in our lives and awakens the joy in our lives. Glad you shared this....hope many read and find the truth that lies herein. Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 3 years ago from Philippines

      Hello tirelesstraveler,

      I'm happy that you enjoyed this hub! Thanks very much for dropping by and leaving a lovely comment! And for rating up too!

      Enjoy your exercise!

      God bless!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      The girl and the goat attacked me to this hub. The dividing boarders with them add joy to the hub. Voted up. Now I shall go laugh awhile for some exercise :)

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines

      Hahaha! Happy that you think so Sameer! I'm really glad that you enjoyed this!

      Thanks very much for your visit and upbeat comment!

      All the best!

    • sameer.anand profile image

      Sameer Anand 4 years ago from Pilani (India)

      Hillarious hub Jill. The last example was hysteric!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

      Hello Tony,

      Oh, that's great! First time I met somebody who faves Ella Wilcox! I must confess I only vaguely know her until I did some research for this hub.

      Thanks very much Tony! I happy that you enjoyed this.

      God bless!

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 6 years ago from Yorkshire

      HI Jill

      it was the quote from Ella Wilcox that really attracted me here, she is my favourite poetess.

      good hub, and it has obviously been of great intterest to other hubbers, well done

      regards Tony

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Donna,

      Thank you very much!

      That is so true! That's why, laughter is my favorite exercise! Hahaha!

      God bless!

    • profile image

      Donna 7 years ago

      Laughter makes the world go round, positive fun energy, happiness is heartfelt.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      Hello Almasi,

      It's nice to see you!

      That's great! I will link back too!

      God bless!

    • almasi profile image

      almasi 7 years ago

      Thanks for a wonderful hub. I have linked it to my laughter hub.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      Hello Happyboomernurse,

      Nice to meet you!

      I'm glad that you enjoyed this hub. Thank you very much for your wonderful comment!

      Hope to see you again!

      God bless!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 7 years ago from South Carolina

      I love the way you wove "facts about laughter's biological effects on the body" with other demonstrations and facts about laughter. Great hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      Hi readthispants,

      That's great! Are you a stand-up comedian? It must be exhilarating to have a profession like that!

      Thanks for the visit and lively comment!

      God bless!

    • readthispants profile image

      readthispants 7 years ago from My Happy Place

      Really enjoyed this hub, Laughing and making others laugh is my passion, this hub was a total breath of fresh air. Keep em' coming!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      Hello dinkan - Thank you very much! I am happy if this hub helped change your mood. Laughter can really work wonders.

      Thank you too for bookmarking and rating it up. I really appreciate that! You are very nice!

      Thanks for dropping by. See you around!

      God bless!

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 7 years ago from India

      Really great hub. I had a bad mood from the morning and my mood changed momentously after reading your hub. Thanks jill of alltrades. Bookmarking to get it again in case of a bad mood. rating it up.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      Hi suny - thanks for dropping by!

      I agree, laughter is one great exercise! Makes you happy too!

      Nice to see you here! Hope to see you around again.

      All the best!

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 7 years ago

      sure ,and you know thats the best exercise for your lungs as well as much as for your facial mussels.People laugh a mass in the morning in parks and have a lot of enjoyment in order to remain cheerful the whole day

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      Hi DeBorrah - happy to see you here!

      I also saw your permission, so I've linked back to you. Isn't this great?

      Let's have a good laugh! Let's watch that video above again. Isn't laughter contagious?

      Here's to laughter!

      God bless!

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 7 years ago

      Jill of trades, Great hub! Laughter truly is wonderful medicine for the mind, body and soul!

      Thank you for inviting me over! Great idea! I have already linked this up to my hub on laughter!

      In His love, Peace & Blessings!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hello wavegirl22,

      What can I say, but thank you very much!

    • wavegirl22 profile image

      Shari 8 years ago from New York, NY

      Im a fan :) love your hubs!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi frogyfish,

      Thanks for the visit and for leaving a happy comment!

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 8 years ago from Central United States of America

      Cheerful and realistic words here. Thank You!

      And surely laughter is 'catching'!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hello cgull8m,

      Yes, laughter and smiles are always infectious. They really spread fast! This is one infection I love getting and spreading.

      Thank you for your inspiring comment!

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Inspiring hub, a laugh or a smile to others will cheer them any day. When I was in high school my friend wrote me that my smile is infectious :), which I think is true, smile makes other smile. It also keeps the face and the body healthy. Cheers to you Jill.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi mgibas,

      Nice of you to drop by. Thank you very much for leaving a comment and for bookmarking this hub. I really appreciate that very much.

      All the best!

    • mgibas profile image

      mgibas 8 years ago from Philippines

      Great hub. I like this one and bookmarked it. This hub is well written and well researched. Keep up.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hello Yangtze,

      You are right about life being a mirror. We always get back what we give.

      Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment!

    • Yangtze profile image

      Yangtze 8 years ago

      life is a mirror, you laugh to it, it laugh back to you, be positive, and happy :-?

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Oh, hi Tony! Thank you for visiting again.

      All the best!

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 8 years ago from san diego calif

      Jill please just call me Tony . Best to you

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hello Tony0724,

      Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment.

      Yes, we all need to laugh more often. If we do, we will have a better view of our world and ourselves.

      All the best!

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 8 years ago from san diego calif

      Jill In a world that has gotten ever more serious by the day I want to thank you for reminding me to take a minute breathe and have a good laugh from time to time . Peace out !

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi DoodleLyn,

      That's great! Your comment makes me very happy. Just reading about how you laugh makes me feel like laughing too!

    • DoodleLyn profile image

      DoodleLyn 8 years ago from Upstate New York, USA

      Hi Jill,

      I truly enjoyed reading this hub. I guess my laugh must be hysterical, because my laugh usually gets people laughing too. My friend and I often laugh at things that others don't think is funny, as you wrote in your hub, but we get absolutely goofy about it, to the point where we are snorting and crying we're laughing so hard. Our husbands look at us like we're nuts, cuz they have no idea what we're laughing about. You presented a lot of good information in a clear and entertaining manner. Great hub!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi donuthello,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Well, we usually either laugh or cry after coming from the dentist.

    • profile image

      donuthello 8 years ago

      Nice hub, Jill! :D I would like to add to the choices you have on why we laugh... Or at least this one is applicable at the moment... I laugh when I was sprayed laughing gas. Haha... Sorry! Just came from the dentist.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi James,

      Thank you for visiting. Your comment always inspires me. Yes we really need to laugh. That's one of the reasons why I wrote this hub. I want to spread the laughter bug! If you catch it, then please spread it!

      Hello Peggy,

      Thank you for your heartwarming comment. Yes, all of us should laugh more often.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Wonderful hub about laughter and its benefits. Here is to more of what inspires all of us to laugh more often!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Very nicely done. Laughter is a wonderful, beneficial part of human life. The world needs more of it. We also need to find those who seldom laugh and make them laugh. This is great service to our fellow persons. Thanks!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi mrslisae,

      Thank you for visiting.

      Laughter is always a good stress reliever. Not only that, it's a great way to start the day!

    • profile image

      mrslisae 8 years ago

      Nice! I like to laugh at ridiculous things when I'm stressed or when I've had too much caffeine ;)

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Christianesk,

      As always, your comment inspires me. Thank you for the visit.

      Hello anglnwu,

      Nice of you to drop by. Thank you for leaving a beautiful comment.

      Yes, we should laugh ourselves silly often. Laughter is better than any "upper" in lifting our spirits.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 8 years ago

      Your hub is both informative and delightful.A little laughter goes a long way. Along with random acts of kindness, we should add random bouts of laughter too.

      I find that watching funny movies and laughing myself silly is a good way to lift my spirits.

    • christianesk profile image

      christianesk 8 years ago from The Global Hamlet

      Ah, another great hub, Jill.. I am gonna read it again.

      Lovin' it!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi lizrenee,

      You're welcome! Thank you too for dropping by and leaving a comment.

      Hello Elena,

      Thank you very much for your inspiring comment. I'm happy that you enjoyed the joke. Now that you mentioned it, I'm also starting to laugh again! I guess my funny bone is really active.

      I'm also happy that you found something new. Observe it next time in a group. See who starts the laughter.

      Here's to laughter!

    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 8 years ago from Madrid

      Greatly done, Jill! I'm laughing like a hyena at the last joke you told! I didn't know the "controlling" aspect of laughter, this thing you explain that when an authority figure laughs others tend to follow suit. I'm a firm believer that laughter is indeed a cure-pretty-much-all medicine :-)

    • lizrenee44 profile image

      lizrenee44 8 years ago from Missouri

      Thanks for the nice welcome. You have some interesting hubs.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Dottie1,

      Thank you for dropping by and sharing your laughter story. Just reading about it made me laugh too. Ha ha ha!

      We really need laughter in our lives. Ha ha ha!

      Hello RedElf,

      I'm happy that you enjoyed this hub. I had fun writing it. Thank you for your heartwarming comment.

      Hi angcorics,

      It's nice of you to drop by again! I'm glad that this hub is what you needed as you said. That's actually one of the reasons why I wrote this hub. Like you, I was also teary-eyed most of the time during the last few days. I needed some relief from all the strong emotions that surfaced during Tita Cory's death. I had to do something light.

      The other reason is of course ---I simply love to laugh! I wanted to spread the laughter bug...ha ha ha...catch it!

    • profile image

      angcorics 8 years ago

      Ha Ha Ha. I needed that. The week has juat been filled with a lot of work, and Tita Cory also died this week and that made me very sad and teary eyed. LOL truly helps, and learning to laugh at oneself is truly a blessing. So, jillofalltrades, thanks for this gentle reminder, thaT LAUGHING is indeed the best medicine, and simply laughing and the whole world will laugh with you. Keep smiling, and keep writing. You are making this a much better world. Congrats, and keep those fingers typing away. Keep hubbing away.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Great hub, Jill. I especially loved the video. You have presented some very complex information here in a very well-structured and interesting manner. Keep up the great work.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

      This hub brought back memories of a laughing attack I once had in work and couldn't stop for the life of me. My boss and other workers then lined up outside my office door and they began to laugh and friendly talk and joke for what seemed like hours. Yes, we all need to laugh more often. That was a day worth repeating, sadly though we get too serious about life! I'm going to add laughter 100x to my daily routine. Let the family think I'm nuts, they probably already do! hahahahahahahhahahahaha, LOL.. Great hub, Jill :)

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Coffeesnob,

      You always say the nicest things. Thank you for dropping by. Laughter is really the perfect way to start a day.

      All the best!

    • profile image

      coffeesnob 8 years ago


      Reading this hub was a wonderful way to start my day. I loved that movie, "Patch Adams" Seeing the trailer was a reminder of how important it is to find every reason in life to LAUGH. I am heading to the dentist this morning

      so I need to laugh LOL . You are a blessing - thanks

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you Jay!

      Thanks for your wonderful comment. I'm happy if the hub helped you.

    • profile image

      Jay 8 years ago

      Awesome Hub. I needed that. I liked the way you have presented this topic. Keep up the good work.