Adults laugh anywhere from 4 to 20 times per day, according to multiple studies. This is significantly less than the number of times children laugh per day, and may be much less than is necessary for good mental, emotional, and physical health.
Here’s what you need to know about laughter and how it can help both adults and children.
Laughter As We Age
Some studies conclude that children laugh as much as 300 to 400 times per day.
Laughter is one of the earliest skills a child learns; babies can start laughing as early as three months old, and start smiling shortly before this. It’s a way of not only communicating with their parents or caregivers – laughter elicits a response, meaning the child gets more attention – but also a way of discovering their own voice and body control.
As young children, the most common sort of laughter is that at absurdist humor. Absurdist humor relies on unexpected or nonsensical events or phrases.
For instance, a child might laugh because a word sounds silly, or because something they dropped made a funny noise. Children tell jokes that make no sense to adults, and are funny simply because they make no sense. Because of this wide range of triggers, children have far more reasons to laugh than adults do.
Growing older, our sense of humor matures with us. When adolescents go through puberty, they make jokes of it, but adults may find those jokes to be immature or crude, while children simply won’t understand them as they lack the live experience necessary.
Laughter is also a social action; interacting with others makes it far more likely that you’re going to laugh, and as we age, we tend to interact directly less often. Eventually, jokes and humor become extremely personal; what is funny to one adult may not be funny at all to another.
Why You Should Laugh More
Current research suggests that this diminishing of laughter as we age could be detrimental; in fact, many sources claim that laughing more frequently can have a bevy of benefits across the spectrum of health.
For one, laughter is good for you physically. The act of laughing engages your lungs, muscles across your abdomen, head, and neck, and your heart. It can help make you more active and strengthen those muscles as well as improve your respiratory system.
Additionally, laughter releases endorphins and serotonin, which cause you to feel good mentally. This can help brighten your mood and reduce the effects of depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional illnesses.
Finally, as mentioned, laughter is considered a social behavior. This is because research has found that adults are 30 times more likely to laugh when in conversation with others. Laughing with your family, friends, and colleagues can help strengthen your social bonds and offer more trust and willingness to cooperate.
Simply finding something to laugh about together can make social interactions significantly more productive and positive.
Adults laugh far less often than kids do, and that’s a shame. Perhaps adults could learn more about this natural, instinctual healing process from kids and take a leaf out of their book. Learning to laugh more, and to accept that not all laughter is mature and that that’s okay, may be our healthiest option.
Consider adding a bit more laughter into your life. Catch up on a funny TV show, read some good comics, or chat more with your friends and enjoy your in-jokes. Doing so might just extend your life and improve the quality of it over all.