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I wished to write a blog about one thing that is so powerful to us humans; laughter. Laughter that is genuine, spontaneous and triggered by humor. is something that interests me very much in my profession as a family therapist; as it gives insights into the moments where we feel at ease with other, moments that are impactful and often memorable, the times when we are connected on a very particular level with those we are laughing with. 

Laughter is often described as an important part of social bonding. In fact, Ross, Owren, and Zimmermann (2009), discuss how the social element to laughter does not only apply to us humans. Primates also produce the laughing sound, in conjunction with an open mouthed and relaxed facial expression, signaling that they are playing and that they do not intend to harm others who are around them. Thus, laughter that is genuine and that is triggered by a funny situation is an important social que, passing on the message that we are being playful and feeling relaxed.

Manninen et al. (2017), conducted research which shows that apart from the fact that laughter acts as a social que to playfulness and relaxation, laughter that is shared with others also increases pleasurable sensations and this pleasurable feeling can be highly contagious. The endorphin response may easily spread through a large group of people that laugh together. Research shows how because of this shared pleasurable experience, social laughing can promote stronger relationships and affiliations with others.

Life is at times difficult, and it may not always be so easy to find things to laugh about. However, even in difficult phases in life, try to make time to still be playful with those who are meaningful to you. If you struggle to find something new to laugh about, recall together a moment that had made you laugh in the past. Chances are it will at least make you smile together. It might not change the bigger picture of why your life might be difficult, but it might give you a moment of lightness and a moment of connection.

Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specialises in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on rebecca@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.