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Here’s Why You Need Humor to Have a Healthy Brain

There are a lot of critical functions of your brain, but it turns out that joking — long dismissed by some as a frivolous diversion from reality — may make us smarter and healthier. There’s even evidence that a sense of humor helps the human species survive. The brain is like a muscle and it needs exercise. What gives the brain a workout? Information. The brain is filled with opioid receptors — yes, opioid, as in the drug. Made of specialized proteins, these receptors poke out of our neurons like tiny radio antennas designed to pick up passing signals. The more neurons that are activated, the more pleasure we feel. With humor, the funnier we find something, the more neurons are fired, and that, in turn, makes us feel good. Laughter is a natural stress reliever, and our brains work better when they’re not slowed down by a fog of worry. A good joke can function as a release valve for the whole body, and believe it or not — humor can even ease pain. If a healthy sense of humor can make you smarter and happier, then one thing is clear: Finding time in your day for a good joke or two is no laughing matter.