President's Column - March 2024

President's Column,

Have you ever started laughing just because someone else was laughing so hard you simply couldn’t help but join the fun?

We almost immediately associate laughter with humor but it can be triggered by various factors, such as embarrassment, social discomfort and at times it truly is contagious! That’s because your brain makes it nearly impossible not to smile at the sound of laughter. In a test conducted where laughing sounds were played for the subjects to hear, in studying the subjects’ brains, it was discovered that the premotor cortical region of the brain, which prepares the muscles in the face to move, was activated.

The mechanism of laughter is so ingrained in our brains that babies as young as 17 days old have been observed doing it. Speaking of contagious laughs… whenever I hear a baby or toddler having a good, hearty belly laugh, the chance of me also laughing is nothing shy of 100%.

One of the things I find most beautiful about laughter is that it is for everyone to know and enjoy universally. It does not belong to any one language or group. In fact it is not for humans alone! Believe it or not, some animals can laugh too. Dogs, cats, monkeys and rats, who apparently have quite ticklish necks, all enjoy a good chuckle from time to time!

There have been numerous studies on laughter and how it affects one’s health. One study showed that laughing improved the memory of adults in their 60s and 70s. Other re-search has shown that laughing can improve immunity, help regulate blood sugar levels and improve sleep, while others have focused on how it can help relax muscles, aid with blood circulation and protect against heart disease. 

Just 10 to 15 minutes of laughing a day can burn up to 40 calories. The increase in heart rate and oxygen consumption during laugh sessions is what helps boost that burn for you!

As if that wasn’t enough, it can help with our mental health, too; it can lower anxiety, release tension and improve moods. 

In my research to further my knowledge with fun facts about laughing, I read that on average, a six year old child laughs three times more than an adult. I also read that you cannot laugh by tickling yourself. While I do not particularly care for either of these facts, I do love that you can share a good laugh, and that is what I hope to do with you now. 

This laugh was one of those laughs that had me ugly laugh/crying, and I can feel that it will stick with me for quite some time. Just thinking about it now, I can already feel the smile creep up on my face.

The other night, I was watching a movie with my brother and his dog, Kelowna, who was barely paying any attention and sleeping peacefully on Tom’s lap. She suddenly popped her head up and it became obvious that she had an itchy nose and was about to sneeze. With a rather dramatic lead up, she let out a funny sounding and large sneeze all over Tom. We both started laughing as she sneezed again. Tom let out some kind of noise between “ewww” and “ugh!” by the third sneeze, but continued to laugh. I was cracking up by this point. As I looked over at Kelowna, she looked like Samantha from Bewitched, wiggling her nose. This was not over! Kel let out another round of two or three sneezes on Tom. He commented on how she sounded like Donald Duck as she was sneezing. I lost it at this point and had tears streaming down my face as my brother tried to cover his head and shield himself from any further attack from my favorite dog ever. There had to have been nothing short of 10 sneezes. At least that’s what it felt like to me. It felt like time slowed down for me though. Even when I replay it in my head, I replay it in slow motion and continue to laugh at the memory.

I hope you all take a moment today to remember the last time (or any time) that you laughed so hard it hurt. I hope the memory brings you joy, a smile to your face or better yet, makes you laugh out loud.

Jennifer Thoroe is Director of Customer Service & Business Development for National Steel Rule, a steel rule manufacturer based in Linden, NJ, USA. She joined forces with National on November 1, 2018 after working in the industry and volunteering with the IADD for over 15 years. She moved up to NJ from GA in the summer of 2019. One pandemic and three moves later, Jennifer is finally settling into her home near the Jersey Shores with her awesome super-fantastic brother Tom and his even cooler dog, Kelowna.

She has consistently used her time and talents to bring greater value to IADD members, whether through chapter activities, managing volunteers, Board service or overseeing myriad membership recruitment and retention activities. For this, Jennifer received the 2017 IADD Cutting Edge Award, one of the Association’s highest honors. She is the first woman to serve as IADD president.

The President's Column appears in The Cutting Edge, the IADD's monthly magazine.