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WHY DO WE LAUGH?

Since, quite sometime I have been wondering what’s the answer to this question. Well, I am one of those people who laughs very easily, and sometimes after laughing at something I am left with a question that why did I do that? After researching a little I got brief idea on why do we tend to laugh, that I’d like to share.

We were taught that laughter is a physical reaction or a visual expression of a number of positive emotional states like joy, happiness etc. Laughter provides powerful, uncensored insights into our unconscious. It simply bubbles up from within us in certain situations.

Now, in terms of the science of laughter, there isn’t very much, but it does turn out that pretty much everything we think we know about laughter is wrong. So it’s not at all unusual, for example, to hear people to say humans are the only animals that laugh. In fact, you find laughter throughout the mammals. It’s been well-described and well-observed in primates, but you also see it in rats, and wherever you find it — humans, primates, rats —you find it associated with things like tickling. That’s the same for humans. You find it associated with play, and all mammals play. And wherever you find it, it’s associated with interactions. Almost 90 percent of our laughs have nothing to do with jokes, writes neuroscientist Dr Robert Provine, who has done a lot of work on this, has pointed out that you are 30 times more likely to laugh if you are with somebody else than if you’re on your own, and where you find most laughter is in social interactions like conversation.

So if you ask human beings, “When do you laugh?” they’ll talk about comedy and they’ll talk about humor and they’ll talk about jokes. If you look at when they laugh, they’re laughing with their friends. And when we laugh with people, we’re hardly ever actually laughing at jokes. You are laughing to show people that you understand them, that you agree with them, that you’re part of the same group as them. You’re laughing to show that you like them. You might even love them. You’re doing all that at the same time as talking to them, and the laughter is doing a lot of that emotional work for you. You can catch laughter from somebody else, and you are more likely to catch laughter off somebody else if you know them. So it’s still modulated by this social context. You have to put humor to one side and think about the social meaning of laughter because that’s where its origins lie.

In our evolution, we have developed two different ways of vocalizingVoluntary like talking and involuntary which were a part of a much older system. So can we differentiate between the types of laughter we generally come across: which are real and posed. As you get older, you get better and better at spotting real laughter.  You’re learning about laughter throughout your entire early adult life.

When you hear somebody going, “A ha ha ha ha ha,” you’re trying to work out why they’re laughing. Laughter is always meaningful. You are always trying to understand it in context, even if, as far as you are concerned, at that point in time, it has not necessarily anything to do with you, you still want to know why those people are laughing.

Everybody underestimates how often they laugh, when you laugh with people, that’s actually letting you access a really ancient evolutionary system that mammals have evolved to make and maintain social bonds, and clearly to regulate emotions, to make ourselves feel better. It’s not something specific to humans — it’s a really ancient behavior which really helps us regulate how we feel and makes us feel better.

So, finally I come to answer my question by saying that maybe I like to be more aware of how I want to react to different people trying to approach to talk to me, and also that I use laughter as a glue to bond relationships subconciously (of course) with my mates.

So laugh, to make it more contagious, every time you feel like and until your belly hurts and a bit more, cause; what’s there in life without some smiles, laughter and happy memories

 

Shreya

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