We’ve all laughed at nothing in particular just to keep the conversation going. Researchers in Zambia found that chimps do too. Their study, published in Emotion, observed chimpanzees and greater apes responding to other chimps through expressions deemed laughter. Similar to the laughter in human interaction, the study found chimp laughter to be shorter when conversational, longer when spontaneous, and ultimately serve to reinforce social bonds. The study also observed chimps in new groups to mimic the laughter of the others more than chimps in their established groups. Just like our conversational giggles in a new social setting, chimps use laughs and smiles to promote communication. This suggests that chimp social behavior is more complex and similar to humans than formerly believed. Try laughing the next time you go to the zoo and see if you can crack any other primate smiles.
I'd like to share a bit of my experience with standup comedy. Having done standup for a dozen years, I've watched a lot of people try to make it work and fail. And I have a secret for you. It's the number one reason why people succeed in standup. In anything. You won't believe it. You're going to say that it's too simple. That there's got to be some other magic ingredient... talent, or charisma... but the truth is that the number one ingredient to success in comedy is PERSISTENCE with the INTENTION TO SUCCEED. If you don't persist with absolute determination, you will have a very difficult time getting past the challenges that come up, and they are numerous.
If you have been mindful of your stress levels this month, well done. April is National Stress Awareness Month and according to the Society for Vascular Surgery, laughter is a key function in reducing stress and hypertension. Fortunately, April is also National Humor Month. You may have never heard of either holiday, but they are easy enough to celebrate. The two go hand in hand and it's as simple as laughing off your stress. Attending my laughter yoga class is a great way to start.
Stress greatly impacts blood pressure, which can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), and eventually, cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, Dr. Vivienne Halpern from the Society for Vascular Surgery stated that “laughter reduces the level of stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, dopamine, and growth hormone) and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones (endorphins and neurotransmitters)... this can result in a stronger immune system and fewer physical effects of stress.” So heed the advice of April's healthy holidays and get giggling. Maybe it'll help combat these nasty Spring colds that are going around.