There's a quote that says “everyone smiles in the same language.” A smile or a laugh bridges distances caused by language barriers. It bridges the gap between the young and old, between strangers, and between people who may feel they have nothing in common with each other.  That universal language unleashes an excess amount of feel-good emotions and has proven to be advantageous on both a mental and physical level.

Physically, laughter automatically relaxes your entire body which relieves your muscles and reduces stress. Your stress hormone levels drop which can lessen the pain and inflammation felt within your body. While the cortisol levels drop, endorphins are released—those natural feel-good chemicals that genuinely produce euphoric feelings. Laughing also can reduce your blood pressure, while improving your blood circulation and oxygen intake.

In terms of mentality, laughing can positively alter cognitive function. Researchers believe that the cerebral cortex experiences a sweep of electricity preceding a good chuckle. That cognitive functioning is strengthened as all areas of the brain are simultaneously activated. Of course, maintaining an optimistic outlook on life protects your mental well-being from depression, anxiety and stress—all which can negatively impact your health.

Studies are also finding that those who regularly invite humor into their day will typically experience a longer life span. A study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology reports that during a seven-year experiment, participants who enjoyed a “sense of humor” had a 20 percent lower mortality rate compared to those who weren't prone to laughter.

So take a little friendly advice from your friends over at Senior Helpers: embrace humor when you can, as much as you can. Life's too short to not enjoy it wholeheartedly!

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