You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.

‘Why did the chicken cross the road? I don’t care why it crossed the road but hearing the joke makes me laugh every single time. The thought of a chicken crossing a road evokes an imagery in my head of something from the delightful movie, Chicken Run, and gets me hollering every time.

I even found something to laugh about while a dear friend took the photo of me (above) posing in John Lewis this summer. I embarrass my daughter because she says that I am a non-discerning laughter led person i.e that even if the punchline is a downer I still find something in the joke/circumstance to guffaw about.

Remember ‘Trigger Happy’ featuring Dom Jolly and his oversized phone? The series ran from 2000 to 2003. It was pure malarkey with humans dressed as oversized animals jumping out of nowhere scaring people and Dom Jolly sliding up to unsuspecting people while he pretended to be a Russian spy. Every week I laughed till my sides, literally, ached.

Laughter is one of life’s ‘free’ and effortless joys. It’s spontaneous and the sources of laughter can be found anywhere – joke books, knock knock jokes, TV programmes, books and within the confines of one’s home. My cat (an indoor one) makes me laugh when it attempts to fight with the neighbourhood cats who peer through the double glazed back door. My daughter makes me laugh when she invents the most ridiculous excuses to get out of chores.

Laughter boosts oxygen levels, releases cortisol and endorphins and boosts our immune system. It lowers stress and anxiety. Basically, there is every health related reason to laugh your heads off. However, according to researchers at the Vanderbilt University ‘genuine voiced laughter’ raises your heart rate by 10% to 20% and burns calories too.

A good guffaw (laughter) will also swat away those in your circle who accuse you of being grumpy as you get older. While Victor Meldrew may have become famous from being ‘King Grump’, there isn’t a health benefit for the rest of us lesser mortals. If anything, we have to work harder at being upbeat for a number of reasons. Some of the reasons are because our dopamine levels decline with age and this can result in depression; and, with women, lower estrogen levels due to the menopause can cause anxiety and sadness. Loneliness and having to cope with a changing world are some of the other causes of low mood.

As you start a new week, do indulge in some laughter even if the world feels like a dark and foreboding place with wars raging. Find your little oasis of mirth and let genuine voiced laughter rise from within your chest. If all fails watch this video: