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How to Use Laughter to Reduce Your Susceptibility to Anger

Laughter is (literally) a painkiller. It can kill both physical and emotional pain, reducing the likelihood that certain situations will make you angry. Studies comparing some type of neutral distraction, relaxation, and laughter found laughter to be most effective in raising a person’s pain threshold. Bottom line: Laughter reduces pain sensitivity.

The same is true for anger sensitivity — how touchy you are and how easily you can be provoked to anger. In other words, you’re less likely to be annoyed by something if you’re in good humor than if you’re not. Think of humor as a shield that protects you from the stinging impact of someone else’s bad behavior.

Some people seem to have been born with a keen sense of humor. They don’t have to try to be funny or make themselves and other people laugh — it just comes naturally. Other people have to look outside themselves to find something to make them laugh.

Here are some other ways you can bring some laughter into your life:

  • If you have a friend with a good sense of humor, spend time with that person as often as you can.

  • Avoid the serious stuff on TV — especially the news! — and watch things that are lighthearted, even to the point of being silly.

  • Find some movies that make you laugh and watch them repeatedly — think of it as therapy!

  • Eat out in places where people tend to be loud, raucous, and having fun.

  • Spend time with pets. When you get to know them, they can be a riot.

  • Go to a bookstore and buy a joke book.

  • Watch late-night TV. It’s all silly and stupid — just what the doctor ordered at the end of a long, stressful day.

  • Involve yourself in activities that provide good-natured fellowship.

  • Keep visual reminders in your home and office of fun times with friends and family.

  • Close your eyes and revisit a situation where you laughed until your sides burst.

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