Nothing to laugh at?

The travel industry has been through a wonderful time this last 22 months (feels like 22 years) …. and yes I am being sarcastic. Oh my goodness. I knew things were bad when I went to my favourite industry website OpenJaw to check on the “funnies” they post under Deviations only to find that the last posting was in October. Yep, that absolutely says it all. Absolutely nothing to laugh about.

But wait a minute. When everything goes haywire one thing you have to preserve is your sense of humour. This has got people through horrible situations in the past. Just take the last two world wars. Those poor buggers in the trenches – but they could still laugh. Maybe it was the only thing that kept them going.

It is very true that a good belly laugh produces endorphins that just make you feel better. It’s no joke – check the Mayo Clinic website if you don’t believe me. Look at this – short term and long term benefits just from having a sense of humour.

Short-term benefits

A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects

Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your stress, depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier. It can also improve your self-esteem.

So there you go, a good chuckle is not just fun – it is a necessity. I had a chuckle over this one I found –

A World War II pilot is reminiscing before school children about his days in the air force. “In 1942,” he says, “the situation was really tough.

The Germans had a very strong air force. I remember, ” he continues, “one day I was protecting the bombers and suddenly, out of the clouds, these fokkers appeared. (At this point, several of the children giggle.) I looked up, and right above me was one of them. 

I aimed at him and shot him down. They were swarming. I immediately realized that there was another fokker behind me.”

At this instant the girls in the auditorium start to giggle and boys start to laugh. The teacher stands up and says, “I think I should point out that ‘Fokker’ was the name of the German-Dutch aircraft company”.

“That’s true,” says the pilot, “but these fokkers were flying Messerschmidts.”

So what do travel agents have to laugh about? Ummmm… no seriously. We do still laugh.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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