Join The Belly Laugh Bounce Around the World:  on January 24 at 1:24 p.m. local time, smile, throw your arms in the air and laugh out loud.

Suggestions for acts and activities can be found at
Why bother? Because laughter is good for your physical and mental health! 

According to the Mayo Clinic:
When it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor ordered. Here’s why.  

[NB: I’ve changed some formatting and left out some bits, but you can fill those in by going to the Mayo Clinic website.]

Short Term

A good laugh has great short-term effects.  When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body.

  • Stimulate many organs. 
    • Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. 
    • A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. 
    • Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long Term

Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long term.

  • Improve your immune system. 
    • Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity.
    • By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. 
    • Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. 
    • Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations.
    • It helps you connect with other people.
  • Improve your mood. 
    • Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.

How’s Your Sense of Humor?

  • Ask the professionals.
    • Find a few things that make you chuckle, such as photos, greeting cards or comic strips, and hang them up at home or in your office.
    • Keep funny movies, books, magazines or comedy videos on hand for when you need an added humor boost.
    • Look online at joke websites.
    • Go to a comedy club.
  • Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away.
    • Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
    • Consider trying laughter yoga: people practice laughter as a group. Laughter is forced at first, but soon turns spontaneous.
  • Share a laugh. 
    • Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh.
    • And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
  • Knock, knock. 
    • Browse through your local bookstore or library’s selection of joke books and add a few jokes to your list that you can share with friends.
    • Retelling jokes or anecdotes that are stale or dated could be a good indicator of a character’s age or social awkwardness.
  • Know what isn’t funny. 
    • Don’t laugh at the expense of others.
    • Some forms of humor aren’t appropriate.
    • Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad or hurtful one.
    • A hurtful sense of humor might indicate a character’s villainous nature before any deliberately villainous acts.

Go ahead and give it a try. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you’ve had your chuckle, take stock of how you’re feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant? That’s the natural wonder of laughing at work.

Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan (Loma Linda University) have found the following physical health benefits:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces stress hormone levels
  • Works your abdominal muscles
  • Improves cardiac health
  • Boosts T-cells
  • Triggers the release of endorphins
  • Produces a general sense of well-being adds the following:

  • Relieves pain
  • Burns calories
  • Increases blood flow

Still not convinced?  Go online and read for yourself!

And while you are at it, better know your laughter!  There are as many words for laughter as there are for types of laughter. Consider the positive and negative connotations of the following: 

  • Guffaw
  • Giggle
  • Snigger
  • Chuckle
  • Chortle
  • Titter
  • Howl
  • Roar
  • Snicker
  • Cackle
  • Shriek
  • Snort

Bottom line: When it comes to laughter, too much of a good thing is still a good thing!

Top Ten Tuesday: Funny Writing

Top Ten Tuesday, books on humor, funny, humorous books
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they provide a prompt for bloggers. Today’s prompt is Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh.

FUNNY WRITING : I don’t do that. It isn’t for lack of interest; it just doesn’t come naturally to me. I have sometimes written things that make people smile, and several of those short pieces appear in Different Drummer. But when writing those things, humor wasn’t my goal. On the other hand, I definitely chose the cover for smiles!
Different Drummer by Vivian Lawry, humor stories, short stories, funny
That said, I do like to laugh. And it’s a scientific fact that you can’t get ulcers while laughing. So for the sake of your physical and mental health, write funny if you can. And if you can’t, read some of the following.


My all-time favorite humorist is James Thurber—and not just because he lived and worked in Columbus, Ohio. Not only does he write funny, he draws funny! His stories, illustrated with his own cartoons, appeared dozens of times in The New Yorker. If I had to choose just one book of his, it would be The Thurber Carnival.

James Thurber, funny writing, humor writing
The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber

For one thing, it includes selections from several of his other books, as well as some previously unpublished stories. It begins with a third-person bio which Thurber wrote about himself. Even his titles make me smile, e.g., “Are You the Young Man Who Bit My Daughter?” and “Darling, I Seem to Have This Rabbit.” But really, snap up any Thurber you happen to come across.

James Thurber collection of novels, funny writing, humor writing
James Thurber collection of funny writing

I tend to like collections of humor writing. For example, Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures, edited by Jennifer L. Leo, contains stories by Anne Lamott, Ellen DeGeneres, and others.

Sand in my Bra short story collection, funny writing, humor writing,
Sand in My Bra

Two great classic collections are Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New Yorker, edited by David Remick and Henry Finder, and An Encyclopedia of Modern American Humor, edited by Bennet Cerf. Both include dozens of time-tested stories.

I also enjoy a number of writers who have assembled entire books of their own work. P.S. Wall’s My Love Is Free . . .But the Rest of Me Don’t Come Cheap comes to mind, as does David Sedaris, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and Erma Bombeck, All I Knew About Animal Behavior I learned in Loehmann’s Dressing Room.

Then there are the humor books targeted to specific groups of readers. The Primal Whimper (Glenn C. Ellenbogen, Ed.) a collection of made-up research that pokes fun at psychologists and psychiatrists. I like What Dr. Spock Didn’t Tell Us: A Survival Kit For Parents (B.M. Atkinson, Jr., with Whitney Darrow, Jr.). I recently found four copies on Amazon to gift to the “children” of friends who are now parents themselves. Maybe part of the reason I like it so much is that the drawings remind me of Thurber!

Perhaps the greatest admiration should go to people who can write entire novels that make us laugh. I’m thinking particularly of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones.

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, writing humor, humor writing
Tom Jones

Also remember P.G. Wodehouse and Steven Leacock. And who could forget Mark Twain? The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  But consider the slim volume The Jumping Frog. It pokes fun at literature in translation!

The Jumping Frog, Mark Twain, writing humor, funny writing
The Jumping Frog

And where do I fit in Peg Bracken? Most well-known for The I Hate To Cook Book, she is just as funny in But I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For the World.

But I Wouldn't Have Missed It For The World! by Pec Bracken, writing humor, funny writing
But I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World!

But we mustn’t limit our laughs to books written primarily for humor. Think Jane Austen and Mary Roach. 

Takeaway for Readers

Take your laughs where you can find them.


Takeaway for Writers

Good humor writing is timeless.


What books make you laugh? Tell me in the comments below, on Facebook, or Twitter.