How to Laugh – 18 Ways

How to laugh. A secret to a Great Day  two boys laughing

Don’t wait to laugh yourself silly today.

Research shows laughter even helps prevent chronic illness, it acts like a Prophylactic!

When bad things happen, laughing can help prevent a negative spiral. Events outside ourselves that seem unfair happens. You are in a car accident. Your beloved betrays you. You may lose a job. You may get a cancer diagnosis. We all need to be ready with a reliable and healthy way to feel good in these trying times. HEHEHAHA will change your mood in a minute. 

You may think it’s foolish to laugh at a time of emergency but that is when laughter can help most. The protective value of laughter is clear when you understand the way we process bad news. Your brain releases cortisol when you perceive a potential threat. 

Research shows that the stress hormone cortisol motivates animals to run for their lives, but before an animal runs, it scans for more information. When a deer smells a wolf pack, it scans the landscape for detail so it knows which way to run. Likewise, when your cortisol turns on, your brain scans for details about the threat. Our brains are good at finding evidence of threat when it looks.

Cortisol once released stays in the system for about an hour. Or longer. During that time, everything you observe will seem bad because your brain is cued to look for threats. You risk triggering more cortisol, and another hour of scanning for threats. A cortisol spiral can result. You can protect yourself from spiraling by having a safe and handy way to trigger good feelings. Once a good feeling is triggered, your brain is cued to look for positives instead of just negatives. Laughter is a great tool for times of crisis! 

little boy in vest laughing How do you laugh? 

There are all kinds of laughs, and each of them varies because there are all kinds of people. Some people laugh loudly. Some giggle, some stifle every laugh with a glottal stop, barely letting it get out fully. There are subtleties but the biology is the same for everyone. Laughter helps you relax. Learn to laugh and increase your happiness!

The one thing about laughter is that it is universal, everyone laughs. All cultures laugh. But, although people in all cultures laugh, that doesn’t mean all people do. Nor that everyone laughs in the same way. Notice how you laugh (or don’t), what you like to laugh at, when and where you laugh a lot and remember those moments. 

Then use those memories to laugh again and again.

Cultivate a laughter moment in your day

Learning to laugh on cue is great for changing your mood.

I love to laugh because it literally changes my body systems – my biochemistry. It is pain relieving. Plus it always changes your mood. When the boss, spouse or someone else makes us crazy – just put things into perspective by laughing. 

Check out a few ideas below to change your mood in a moment.

HEHEHAHA Sit down and Move your hands down towards your and say He He and with your hands facing out say haha and mean it. You will begin to laugh and if you do it with a friend it is even better.

Get started with 3 short “ha” sounds, and do several sets of this forced laugh. You’ll be surprised at how quickly forced laughs can turn into a legitimate case of giggles. Think of something you found funny in the past while you’re doing this.

Vibration laughter – This works by putting your hand on your body. Start on your throat, laugh and observe the throat vibrations. Put your hands on different body parts and observe how they vibrate differently or not at all.

Bilateral laughter –  Swing both hands gently from side to side chanting Haha HoHo.

Caveat: However you laugh, don’t be embarrassed. Your laugh is uniquely yours, it’s part of you, so have fun daily at least hourly is even better. 

Not only do people laugh in different ways, but we also laugh at different things. 

The fact is we laugh in different ways at different things! Is it an outright surprise? It is an embarrassment? Is it frustration? Is it in sympathy with someone else? What?

For example, always look on the bright side of life – Enjoy this is a very English song. 

  • Put together a collection of sayings or photos that make you smile or even better laugh, and stick them someplace visible. Make sure to change them occasionally, or you’ll likely stop noticing them.
  • Keep a humor file, something to make you laugh for example  in the car ending traffic frustration.
  • Watch or listen to comedy. Use video, podcast, or website. Or get a laugh the old-fashioned way—through the comics section in a newspaper. 
  • Try to laugh at some of the hassles in your life if you can. Finding what’s a bit absurd or amusing in a challenging situation just might offer relief.
  • Start by raising your eyebrows. It’s a typical precursor, to a laugh is coming.
  • There is no perfect or even correct way to laugh just let it come naturally. Use your normal laugh as a guideline. Try to notice the differences between when you laugh with your real laugh and when you are learning to laugh to change your biochemistry. 
  • Stand in front of a mirror and looking seriously at your face. Then, begin to practice different smiles; big ones, little ones, crooked ones, quick ones, long ones, pretty ones, silly ones, etc. After smiling, begin to practice laughs. 
  • You can imagine you are an actor and need to laugh for a part you are playing. Try short laughs, loud laughs, titters, chuckles, cackles and snorts. Notice “your fake/forced laugh” and remember, every laugh is unique. 

Work at laughing until you feel it becomes real. In time you will become a “pain-free laugher.” Notice how positively it affects your day and remember that.

friends laughingRecognize and remember the various ways of laughing. 

There are the giggles various ones. A belly laugh. The nasal twitter. The muffled chuckle. The exhaled or inhaled snort. There are so many ways to laugh.

Learning to laugh on cue is great for changing your mood.

HAHA – Get started with 3 short “ha” sounds, and do several sets of this forced laugh. You’ll be surprised at how quickly forced laughs can turn into a legitimate case of giggles. Think of something you found funny in the past while you’re doing this.

HEHEHAHA – Sit down and Move your hands down towards your feet and say He He then with your hands facing out say haha and mean it. You will begin to laugh and if you do it with a friend it is even better. 

Vibration laughter – Put your hand on your body. Put your hand on your throat, laugh and observe the throat vibrations. Put your hands on different body parts and observe how they vibrate differently or not at all.

Bilateral laughter –  Swing both hands gently from side to side chanting ho ho ha ha ha, which engages both left and right brains.

Connect with your inner giggle – Why not gently giggle while doing things you don’t like doing, e.g., repetitive household chores like washing dishes, mopping floors, vacuuming, hanging clothes, or cleaning windows? If you have to do these tasks but dislike doing them, this will ease your perspective and make them less daunting. Say and repeat “haaaaaa haaaaaa haaaaaa” for as long as necessary when you start to get upset and it will help protect you from developing a negative mood.

Liberated Laughter – Singing Laughter: Sing nursery rhymes with “Ha” instead of words, e.g., Roll Out The Barrel, Skip To My Lou, Yankee Doodle Dandy and so many more.You can push out a chuckle when someone else makes a joke, even if you don’t think it’s funny. They might be able to tell that it isn’t a real laugh, but that in itself might get the both of you laughing for real!

30 Second Laughter – Laugh non-stop for 30 seconds. You could shrug your shoulders, as if to say, “I don’t know why I am laughing.”

Gradient Laughter – Smile, then start to giggle, slowly turning those giggles into a laugh. Gradually increase your laughter in tempo and volume.

Happy Memory Chuckle – Go back in time and find a truly joyous memory, typically of a time when you felt safe, loved, surrounded by people you loved, and when you all laughed. Take time to connect with this memory, laughing now as if you were back then. It normally takes 90-120 seconds to start to recreate the associated emotions.

Hearty Laughter – Make an elongated “aeeee” sound as you slowly lift both arms all the way up, then laugh heartily with your hands pointed to the sky. Imagine that your laughter is coming straight from your heart.

Humming Laughter Sounds – Laugh as you hum, mouth closed. Play with the pitch, up and down the scale, feeling the vibrations resonate through your body.  As you get more adept at feeling the resonation, try and move it deliberately, through your chest, your jaw, your nose, your sinus cavities, your forehead, to the top of your head, and then back down again.

Laughter Breath – Inhale deeply, then exhale in a combination of quick bursts of air coming out and finishing with vocal laughter. Repeat 5-7 times.

Laughter Vowels – Laugh the sound of the following laughter vowels. Let’s start with “A” as in “papa”: Aaaaa haha hahaha. Then “E” as in “free”: Eeeee he hehe hehe. Next is “I” as in “pie”: ii iii hi hi hi hi hi. Next is “O” as in “Bingo”: Ooooo ho ho ho ho ho. Last is “U” as in “soup”: Uuuuu hu hu hu hu hu.

Voice Reinforcement Technique – Take a long breath and elongate your vowels saying “Haaaa Haaaa Haaaa Haaaaa Haaa” five to seven times. Then try to laugh and keep laughing until you run out of breath. Repeat with “He”, “Ho”, “Hu”, etc.

Laughter Sneeze– Sneeze and laugh – “ah, Aaah, Aaaaaaaah ha! ha! ha!”

Yawning Laughter – Laugh as you yawn and try to make someone else yawn.

Holy Laughter – A few churches in the USA use laughter for inner healing, and it works for them Rev. John and Pattie Chappell ( recommend you do: “When you are feeling discouraged or have hurts that need healing, close your eyes, force yourself to raise your head, and begin praising the Lord in tongues or English for a minute or two. Then begin saying ‘Hee, hee, ha, ha, ho, ho!’ and repeat it several times. If you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, this will usually release a flow of holy laughter. If that doesn’t work, try saying, ‘Ho, ha, hee, hee’ or ‘ho, ho, hee, hee, ha, ha! This is not being silly. It is being spiritual! God takes the “foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” These words are holy words, heavily anointed by the Holy Spirit, and amazingly effective. To the natural mind, this “method” is so absurd, so ridiculous, but it will usually produce holy laughter in anyone. God’s methods bear fruit.”

Laugh when you don’t feel like it is when to laugh. Learn not to take yourself too seriously and laugh at your own mistakes and foibles. As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, we all do foolish things from time to time. Instead of feeling embarrassed or defensive, embrace your imperfections. While some events in life are clearly sad and not opportunities for laughter, most don’t carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life—giving you the choice to laugh or not. So choose to laugh whenever you can.

Make a smile on your standard “at rest” face. Some people default to a blank expression or even a scowl.

Treating laughter as an exercise will keep your funny muscles strong. 

Practice, practice, practice laughing with a wide grin and a deep belly chuckle. You will change your mood and feel better afterward.

Practice sets of laughing on your way to work, after you get home, or anytime you want to unwind a bit.

As you watch funny videos or TV cartoons, record yourself laughing. Really laughing.. not just laughing because you’ve been told to. To quote that wry master of slapstick, Bugs Bunny, “unlax.”Save funny material for difficult days. For example, bookmark your favorite funny YouTube videos, or your favorite comedian or go to thrift stores and find old joke books. Find what makes you laugh – some joke books or humorous essays at a bookstore or library. Keep a few handy for a quick way to laugh.

As you journey through life, notice what makes you laugh. Record them or write them down so you’ll remember them. A benefit of the record, maybe even more helpful – if ever something in your life isn’t going well, you can look at your journal, remember the joyful moments, be grateful, and consider that difficulties are momentary. 

Joy always comes again when you add laughter to your day.

  • Seek out humor. Watch a funny video. Here’s a great one to start: it’s the original Late Show host Steve Allen, who couldn’t stop laughing every time he saw himself avec wig on the studio monitor. Mel Brooks’ movies are also a good bet for many people. I love timeless Young Frankenstein. 
  • Go to humorous shows. Improv, stand-up, comedic plays, whatever. Don’t just watch the show enjoy the audience.
  • Join an improv group or fun-oriented community or social club or class. You might find a “laughter yoga” group, that is professionally led. Or find videos on youtube. Yoga’s proven to be healthy, and the act of laughter itself has become a practice. 
  • For example, there’s a group called the “Laughter Club.” It’s for patients, family and staff of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. They focus on the physical act of laughing – belly laughs – and they do it with “let’s pretend” exercises, not jokes and funny stories. They’ll sing with laughter-like nonsense words, or fake a snowball fight. It forces you to let go of your hang-ups, your distractions, inhibitions, and get into the flow.

At all times embrace happiness in yourself and others. 

Using humor to overcome challenges and enhance your life

The ability to laugh, play, and have fun not only makes life more enjoyable but also helps you solve problems, connect with others, and think more creatively. People who incorporate humor and play into their daily lives find that it renews them and all of their relationships.

Life brings challenges that can either get the best of you or become playthings for your imagination. When you “become the problem” and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box and find new solutions. But when you play with the problem, you can often transform it into an opportunity for creative learning.

Playing with problems comes naturally to children. When they are confused or afraid, they make their problems into a game, giving them a sense of control and an opportunity to experiment with new solutions. Interacting with others in playful ways helps you retain this creative ability.

Therefore to practice controlling your biochemistry don’t go a day without laughing. Think of it like exercise or breakfast and make a conscious effort to find something each day that makes you laugh. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes and do something that amuses you. The more you get used to laughing each day, the less effort you’ll have to make.

Laughter loves your heart 

From a university of Maryland study “The ability to laugh – either naturally or as learned behavior may have important implications in societies such as the U.S. where heart disease remains the number one killer,” says PI Dr. Miller. “We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list. Incorporate laugher into our daily activities, just as we do with other heart-healthy activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be — exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day.”

Finally, Don’t force it, remember you get to laugh you don’t have to laugh. Often smiling as you speak will sound more genuine to others. A genuine laugh will likely emerge.

Share what makes you laugh!


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Further reading

Bachorowski, J.-A., Smoski, M.J., & Owren, M.J. The acoustic features of human laughter. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 110 (1581) 2001

Bakhtin, Mikhail (1941). Rabelais and His World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34830-2.

Bogard, M. Laughter and its Effects on Groups. New York, New York: Bullish Press, 2008.

Chapman, Antony J.; Foot, Hugh C.; Derks, Peter (editors), Humor and Laughter: Theory, Research, and Applications, Transaction Publishers, 1996. ISBN 1-56000-837-7.

Cousins, Norman, Anatomy of an Illness As Perceived by the Patient, 1979.

Fry, W.F. (1963). Sweet Madness: A Study of Humor. Palo Alto, Ca: Pacific Books Publishers.

Greig, John Young Thomson, The Psychology of Comedy and Laughter, New York, Dodd, Mead and company, 1923.

Marteinson, Peter, On the Problem of the Comic: A Philosophical Study on the Origins of Laughter, Legas Press, Ottawa, 2006.

Raskin, Victor, Semantic Mechanisms of Humor (1985).

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