It’s no surprise that laughing feels good. It makes you feel young and silly, and giggle fits usually accompany hysterical memories, wild nights or moments of absolute freedom and fun. But beyond that, laughing is good for your health. According to Dr. Lee Berk, an associate professor at Loma Linda University in California, laughter is the best medicine to combat stress. “Laughter shuts down the release of stress hormones like cortisol. It also triggers the production of feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine, which have all kinds of calming, anti-anxiety benefits.” Laughter is good for your body too–you use your core muscles when you laugh and you burn calories. But have you ever given thought to laughter meaning?
The facts are clear: laughing is good for you. But what about all the different types of laughs? We don’t all laugh the same way, and we all laugh differently in different scenarios. Sometimes you giggle a little, sometimes you laugh uncontrollably and sometimes you laugh so deep in your belly that you entire body is sore afterwards. And sometimes, if something is really really funny, you laugh so hard that you pee in your pants a teeny bit. Come on, it’s happened to you too. Anyway, laughter meaning is a thing.
According to Livescience, an unvoiced laugh (with very little sound) is usually a forced reaction to a social situation. Let’s say you’re at a work meeting and a client makes a joke that you don’t find very funny, but you know you need to react. An unvoiced laugh “is more of a conscious expression. We make these panting, grunting, snorting noises when we are trying on purpose to laugh, usually for a social purpose, such as to ease conversation or make friends.”
This kind of laughter is also known as etiquette laughter, and it usually implies that you are eager to get along with others. On the other hand, a loud, bellowing laugh is typically spontaneous, genuine, and happens when something is honestly hilarious. If you laugh loud and freely you are typically comfortable in your own skin and upfront about who you are and what you find funny. You don’t hold back your emotions and you don’t need to fake them either.
The one that causes discomfort
Let’s talk about nervous laughter, because we’ve all been there. You’re in a meeting, at a wedding or at a funeral, and you’re supposed to be silent and respectful, and yet, all you can do is crack up uncontrollably. And then you can’t stop. This nervous laughter is a subconscious reaction to moments of stress or anxiety. It’s unintentional, but it also makes the situation more awkward, rather than reducing the uncomfortable vibe in the room. While many of us have experienced this laughter before, people who become easily stressed and lack self-esteem typically suffer nervous laughter more than the average person.
Contagious laughter (when you start laughing after seeing someone else laughing) is a sign that you are extremely social and influenced by the emotional reactions of others. Explosive laughter usually occurs with someone tries desperately to suppress their laughter over time and eventually they just can’t hold it in any more. If you typically explode into a fit of giggles, you might be tightly wound and you try to hold your emotions in. Sometimes you laugh at yourself, showing self-confidence and sometimes you laugh at other people’s expense, which is slightly less flattering form of laughter. No matter how you laugh, the important thing to note is that laughing in any form is good for your health, your body and your mental health. Don’t hold it in, don’t force it and don’t over-think it—just giggle, have fun, be your silly self and enjoy. There are all different types of laughs, and they’re all expressing themselves for a reason.