Most people will tell you jokes and humour make them laugh. But according to experts, they are wrong.
A psychologist from the University of Maryland found that we actually laugh more when we are talking to our friends. When we are with others, we're 30 times more likely to laugh at something.
Rather than joking, we laugh at statements and comments that could in no way be considered funny.
Laughter is a form of communication, not a reaction—a social behaviour which we use to show people that we like and understand them.
About two years ago, I used to take a morning walk with a neighbour up the steep hill. We'd purchase our husband's newspaper and then stroll downhill—talking all the time. It's not that we had a lot in common other than both being married women of about the same age, but rather a social outing, a sharing of trials and tribulations. Yet, we laughed all the time. The hilarity took away the sting of ageing and the problems that might otherwise weigh us down.
Our routine ended with my neighbour's husband's death. She never accompanied me again. I took to walking alone, breathing the air, feeling the wind on my skin. But I missed the laughter—the sense of belonging, of companionship.
Some researchers think laughter might be the best medicine, helping you feel to better and putting that spring back in your step.
We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.
'Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the face.' Victor Hugo.
I must tell you, dear reader, that growing old alone isn't a belly laugh. My family live in Australia, far away from me in England. Sometimes, I laugh with my husband about trifling issues, or things that go wrong. He's not one to join me although he might crack a smile. Mostly, I chuckle to myself when I make a mistake. Even that tiny show of humour makes me feel better.
What about you? Do you laugh enough?