WHEN LAUGHTER DOES NOT COME EASILY
The surge of emotions.
During middle ages, court jester was often summoned to try and lift monarch out of an angry or melancholic mood. Emotional problems were hardly choice of king. Uneasiness was an inescapable load, borne by crowned head. Neither did this burden spare citizen. In more recent times, science has confirmed subversive power of emotions, emanating from a region called limbic system, buried deep within brain. Being a more primitive part of brain, this region is reported to be seat of emotions. Electrical stimulation of neurons in this region caused you to feel anger, fear, or shame. More often than not, wide range of feelings and emotions, generated by this region, control our actions. Such responses of mind were reported to occur within a bare 20 milliseconds.
A spontaneous event.
Paul Ekman, famous emotions scientist, reported that evaluation that turned on an emotion happened so quickly that people were not aware it was occurring. "We become aware a quarter, or half second after emotion begins. I do not choose to have an emotion, to become afraid, or to become angry. I am suddenly angry. I can usually figure out later what someone did that caused emotion." The nervous system processed all available information and drove us to anger, or despair, within just half a second. Paul's window was fully open in half a second. Open to a deluge. The book, The Intuitive Algorithm, describes speed and power of intuitive process that opens this emotional window.
The stress response.
"I was suddenly anxious." The department was to be “restructured.” Termination notices. Rent payments. Overdue bills. The churning had begun. Emotions had intimate links to body. Anxiety and stress triggered production of adrenal hormone cortisol. Adrenaline supported bodily functions designed to cope with fight or flight response, including increased heart rate. The production of cortisol also initiated one of most insidious processes in nature. Its excess production was shown to damage immune system, arteries, and brain cells, and cause premature aging. Across ages, philosophers sought to reduce impact of this deadly cycle. Could anxiety be mitigated, so that emerging crisis could be evaluated calmly? Medieval medicine believed that emotional imbalance could be corrected by court entertainers - fool or jester. Laughter was believed to be an excellent medicine.
Benefits of laughter.
Laughter is, more often than not, triggered by a sudden release of tension. The door opens slowly in a dark room. As you wait with baited breath, a kitten walks in. You laugh. The system relaxes. There is much recent evidence that laughter aids emotional well being and health. A belly laugh is said to result in muscle relaxation. The processe is aerobic, providing a workout for diaphragm. The workout reduces hormones associated with stress response. Decrease in stress hormones relieve constricted blood vessels and support immune activity. It is a wholly beneficial response. Unfortunately, belly laughs are hardly response of normal people when faced with stressful situations. Laughter is not exactly easy, when you are seething with anger, or sweating in fear. Yet, you need a response to stress, which you can produce naturally.