The Healing Power of Laughter

There’s a scene in To Kill a Mockingbird that illustrates the healing power of laughter. Uncle Jack tells a joke while trying to remove a painful splinter from Scout’s foot, and the little girl responds with peals of childish laughter.

After she catches her breath, the uncle holds up the bloody splice of wood that had bothered her. He explains that the laughter had prevented her from sensing pain.

Laughter is a distraction from negativity. It frees us to heal in many ways.

Real-life Doctor Hunter Doherty, aka Patch Adams, taught the medical world that laughter helps ill people in compassionate ways.

Laughter releases us from limitations

As we become adults with more sophisticated ideas about life and our sense of purpose, we learn to laugh at the irony of contradictions, the juxtaposition of opposites. We grow beyond previous limitations, a spiritual phenomenon. Some of the laughter results from our inner growth over time.

As Rav Doniel Katz, the director of the Elevation Program, comments, “Laughter is sometimes due to awareness about the revelation that there’s been a release of the higher self into a higher state (true reality). We’ll leave superficialities (a spiritual joke) behind us as we face that true reality.”

It’s not just character that heals with laughter. Physical health can, too. Laughter lowers the levels of stress hormones while raising the levels of pleasure-enhancing neurochemicals.

As our bodies convulse and breathe more deeply due to laughter, the workout causes a chain reaction of relaxed facial muscles and improved oxygenation. That gets us thinking better and responding with improved physical prowess. Our moods improve, too.

Related: How to Improve Your Mood (8 Simple Ways)

Think of it this way: Children tend to laugh more often than adults. We know them to be more cheerful, plus more physically and more emotionally resilient than the people bossing them around.

Babies don’t become depressed when they fall while learning to walk. They try again, using a different technique.

Children don’t damn themselves for coloring outside lines: They enjoy being creative and mastering hand/eye coordination. Eventually, they’ll be walking, running, jumping, skipping, riding bikes and hoverboards, etc. Or they’ll draw, perhaps design, something unique.

Kids respond with laughter at the joy of achieving their goals. They leave previous setbacks in the “forget about it” past. That’s quite a life lesson to parents, teachers, and everyone else.

Katz further explains that “The secret of motivation is to know the gap between where I am and where I could be. See the contrast so clearly that you feel the gap and go forward into making massive changes.

If recognizing the gap upsets you, build an achievable bridge between both points in order to move forward. Past failures don’t matter. We fail if we don’t change strategies. Not having expectations and having an open mind lets a person assess and learn from the past in order to see new, different possibilities and strategies. Thinking of moving beyond where you are, prevents crashing from fear or anxiety, aka giving up.”

Motivate your inner child to let your character improve with your physical health by laughing at life’s inconsistencies, your own need to leap forward, and the joy of realizing all of that with the safety of a hearty laugh.

Mental and physical health improve with laughter

Illness can be devastatingly scary. Fear and worry can threaten or worsen health. The willingness to laugh, though, can help a person to transition from the ordeal to resolution.

Author and journalist Norman Cousins wrote books about that. He laughed himself out of the typically devastating health problem called ankylosing spondylitis into complete health. Like the fictional Mockingbird character, he used the anesthetic quality of laughter to promote his ability to relax and heal. Readers benefit from his true-life lessons.

Laughter yoga, invented by Dr. Batan Kataria, helps people lower the pain on many medical problems.

The life lessons above are helping people worldwide. Not a guaranteed cure from anything, laughter certainly proves to minimize problems. It heals mindsets, character, and just possibly physical illness, too.

Use it liberally, with loving joy.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful...

Share it on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author

Mental Health Columnist at

Her book: