By Alice Gatignol

It wasn’t a life-changing experience, an epiphany, or anything similar. I have always loved laughing, and have always been very easily amused. I simply never realised how much laughter mattered to me, and how much my well being depended on it.

Laughter is a natural reaction – just like crying, or sleeping. We have all seen babies laugh, and – let’s be very honest – we all melt at the sound of a baby laughing. As a matter of fact, laughter is one of the rare things that ties humans together without boundaries. No matter what your past is, where you come from, or how you’ve been raised; when you find something fun or humorous, your body laughs/reacts to it. From tribes to metropolitan business-men, we all naturally laugh. Laughter is one of the basic instinctive reactions which is not influenced by our culture, education or background.

The odd thing about laughter, is that you can’t define it – neither its intensity nor its core. It can go from a shy, smiley hick-up, to a full-on, loud, open-mouthed uncontrollable explosion. The degrees are non-exhaustive. Laughter is non-exhaustive, and everywhere. In a joke, a word, a look, a grimace, a circumstance, a group of people, an individual, a repetition, a perception, an inside joke, an imitation, an impulse… the list is infinite. It is one of the very simple things that our body does, that we do not control but which we usually know well enough to kickstart.

Another interesting, fun fact – are there people who do not enjoy laughing? There are certainly some who will say so, but I am convinced that this would be playing a role. In fact, laughter relaxes certain muscles and we do not even know it – we can consider that it is a sort of homemade massage and workout (it even works your abs)! The effects of laughing are only beneficial. Medically, laughter releases endorphins, also known as the « feel good hormones », responsible for arousal, emotion and pleasure, and helps relieve pain.

We can often detect someone’s happiness on how much they laugh. At the early stages of a love relationship, or what we call the « honeymoon phase », couples often laugh regularly, recurrently, and easily. Humans, in their own complexity, can actually be quite simple when it comes to laughter. The happier they are, the more positive reactions their body will have, such as laughing. Studies reveal the happiness circle involved in laughter: the more people laugh, the more people engage in social laughter . Our instinctive reaction from seeing someone laughing is often a smile, and calm – embracing the moment. It’s contagious, too! If, when you are happy, you laugh, the reverse theory works too; so laugh more for more happiness.

Humans are victims of their own existence and conscience, and therefore do have moments of doubt, stress, fear or pain. These often negative emotions may even sometimes lead to depression. We may not control mental health, and all the negative stress that is imposed upon each one of us every day. We do, however, control how to deal with them. Practicing laughter regularly, stimulating your sense of humour, will not only keep your mind focused on something positive for you, but also relax your body from unwanted tension.

It seems that Provine was onto something: smiling and laughter are instinctual survival tools for humans that can help us thrive in our environment. Take the time to laugh every day. With others, at yourself, alone, watching a movie, reading a book. Take the time to find laughter every day, in little things, to increase your wellbeing, your positivity, and your happiness.


  • Alice Gatignol

    The Wellbeing Project

    Wellbeing inspires welldoing: the profound connection between how our relationship with ourselves deeply influences the way we are in the world. We are hearing changemakers around the world express the pressing need for support with their wellbeing. Our work highlights how wellbeing needs to be fundamentally prioritised both for each individual changemaker and because of how it shapes the way social change happens. The Wellbeing Project is a global initiative focused on shifting the culture of the social change field to one oriented towards inner wellbeing and catalysing an infrastructure of support for everyone in the field. The Project is co-created with leading social change institutions and is a community of many of the key global and regional social change leaders and organisations. We see an incredible opportunity to cultivate a social change culture that is more human-centred and at the same time unlock more of the extraordinary collaboration and innovation we need to address our great social and environmental challenges.