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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Speaker says laughter, glee can improve mental health

By Matt Koper/reporter

Cynthia Savage is healthy because she isn’t perfect and can laugh at her own mistakes.

Savage, NE assistant professor/coordinator of mental health resources, gave the Laughter for the Health of It presentation Nov. 5 on. NE Campus.

“That is one of the best things you’ll hear about yourself — you’re human,” she said. “That way you can make as many mistakes along the way and laugh at them.”

Laughter is defined as a reaction to certain stimuli that signals positive reinforcement and acceptance with others. In addition, laughter is spread more easily than a cough, Savage said.

“Laughter is very contagious,” she said. “Have you ever heard someone laugh and just started laughing? Humor is truly infectious.”

The limbic system, which is part of the brain, affects people’s emotions when they laugh, Savage said.

“Emotions are meant to be emoted,” she said. “Validation of our feelings helps us know we are being listened to.”

Savage showed a YouTube video by Kurt Kenne called Validation to reinforce her point.

“When I first started the video, I was watching your faces, and you were all straight-faced,” she said. “As he (the man in the video) was making people smile, you all started smiling — it went all across the room.”

In addition to laughter, something as simple as smiling can produce health benefits, Savage said.

“Even if we just force ourselves to smile, it can make all the difference,” she said. “It’s hard to stay depressed if you’re smiling.”

The way people look at situations also can affect health, Savage said.

“How we perceive what we hear and how we process it in our limbic system could make us happy or sad,” she said. “Someone could cry at an event where someone else is laughing hysterically.”

The key to being happy and having good relationships is to laugh, Savage said.

“Your relationships are what brings meaning to life,” she said. “When you can share that happiness and laughter with your friends and family, your life will be more fulfilling.”

NE student Sara Schaublut left the presentation with the intent to continue laughing.

“Now, I can justify spending hours on YouTube watching cat videos,” she said.

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