A daily injection of levity

I’ve been driving around town with the biggest smile on my face, often laughing out loud. Given recent and ongoing stresses (in spite of my training, I’m not immune), it suddenly dawned on me how funny–and surprising–this was. The secret? I have a new car, a pleasant boost in itself. But the icing on the VW cake is satellite radio–and I’ve just discovered the comedy channels. Truly fun and funny stuff, easing the cruising (or inching) through traffic. My passenger and I were both doubled over the other day, tears streaming down our faces.

Most of us know that laughter does indeed make us feel better. Laughing may help the pituitary gland release its version of endorphins, much like a runner’s high. For all the multi-taskers reading this, however, here’s another fact to motivate you. Recent research by Lee Berk and colleagues showed that laughing affected hormones which regulate appetite. Study participants who watched a serious film clip had no change in these hormones, while those who watched a funny film clip had an increase in leptin, the hormone that signals the body that hunger is satisfied. The researchers concluded that laughter may regulate hunger as well as exercise.

So laughing is good for us–and sharing it with others is even better, allowing us to connect emotionally. No need to go buy yourself a new car, or even purchase/subscribe to satellite radio. Comedy routines can be downloaded from iTunes and/or listened to on CD. Libraries have comedy CDs for check-out, so toss a few into the pile of books next time you’re at story hour. No need to worry about the language with the little ones in the car, either–plenty of G-rated offerings, including “Laugh USA” if you do have satellite radio.

Have favorite jokes or websites, comedy routines or films you want to share? My favorite online sites are the LOLcats and SomeEcards–especially the parenting category. I’d love to have you share yoursere!

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