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Mental Health Benefits of Laughing and ABSOLUTION by Alice McDermott

Cover of the book Absolution by Alice McDermott used to describe the mental health benefits of laughing more.

In 1963, Tricia was a newlywed living with her husband in Saigon. She’d envisioned having a family but was struggling to conceive, which was both isolating and sad. Tricia was smart and driven, but her role as a wife in Saigon was limiting until she joined forces with another Saigon-based wife, Charlene. Together, they brought toys to kids in hospitals, provided clothes to people living in isolation in leper colonies, and generally spread goodwill. Their intentions and execution were typically good-ish. (**Note ** Tricia and Charlene were quite imperfect, and reflecting on their behaviors is a really interesting component of the book).


One day, Tricia, Charlene, and others visited a leper colony to fit people for comfortable and beautiful clothes—a luxury that Tricia and Charlene hoped would lift their spirits. The measuring process was fun, and people who started the day somber ultimately spent significant time laughing.


Laughter may have been the most significant gift anyone could have given.


Laughing is a healthy and effective way to relieve stress. Like exercise, laughing releases feel-better endorphins. When people laugh, they feel more relaxed and experience less physical tension. Laughter leads to better moods, connection with others, increased personal satisfaction, and improved self-esteem. People who laugh a lot tend to be more resilient and less anxious.


Looking to add more laughter into your life? Here are some tips to maximize the mental health benefits of laughing:


Intake Humor: Try watching comedy shows, reading witty books or comic strips, or seeking recommendations for funny YouTube videos.


Find Funny Moments: Even when things are serious, there can be moments of levity. Laughing at humorous components of otherwise challenging situations can help you isolate what’s important.


Share Laughs: Spend time with funny friends, allow yourself to laugh with them, and attempt also to share humorous stories or jokes.


Catch Laughter Around You: Laughter is contagious in the best possible way. When you hear someone laugh, allow yourself to join them and notice when others follow.


Avoid the Line: Don’t make jokes that are mean, belittling, hurtful, or inappropriate.  




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