I read somewhere an author who assured me that ‘man is the only animal that laughs’ and then saying, ‘and that cries, but then nobody would have more reasons for crying’. I don’t know if the psychologist, Sofia Scott would readily agree with this statement as she shows that rats are ticklish and that they, together with chimpanzees and dogs, laugh.
Debates apart, laughter is human and for most of us there is the desire to experience this healthy sensation. Besides being attractive and contagious, laughter requires the right moment to avoid embarrassment. It also seems to be true that people we don’t know appear more attractive if they laugh at our jokes and mannerisms. Laughter therapy was invented some time ago and those who use it are convinced that laughter lowers tension, helps with digestion, reduces cholesterol and many more benefits though, this is not so clear to the experts. Many on the internet assure us that laughter is good for the health but, sadly, this statement is not absolutely certain. Laughter does not help to burn off more calories than going for a run. Although laughter does increase the consumption of energy and the heart rate by approximately 10 – 20%, it is estimated that 10 to 40 calories are burnt for every 10 -15 minutes of laughter. So, you need to laugh for some three hours to burn off a packet of crisps.
In short: like most things, laughter also requires moderation to be observed. But this does not deny its necessity: it is clear that in a sombre and unsociable world, a radiant smile opens a joyous chink of well-being and sympathy. We are superior to the rest not when we frown and are in a bad mood, but rather when we have a warm smile capable of reaching out and making us feel fulfilled, satisfied and happy.

Saying this, it is also certain that what the wise man in the bible, Qohelet, says when he makes this affirmation: “For like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools” (Eccles 7,6). Certain insolent and trivial guffaws appear to be the annoying whistling of the burning thorns, because they demonstrate nothing more that grossness and vulgarity or, all the worst for its refined aggressiveness, the bad taste of the cynical and insulting wisecrack.
Juan Carlos Martos Paredes, cmf

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