UPDATED June 6th, 2018

They say laughter is the best medicine, and while we’re not sure that laughter therapy can actually ease our menstrual cramps or cure Cancer (wishful thinking), it’s comforting to know that the act of laughing can truly help you not just survive, but also thrive emotionally in your daily life. To understand why laughing—and comedy, which can make you laugh unlike anything else—has undeniable health benefits, you also need to understand why stress (aka, the anti-laughter) can have such negative effects on your life. According to Dr. Lee Berk, an associate professor at Loma Linda University in California, “laughter shuts down the release of stress hormones like cortisol. It also triggers the production of feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine, which have all kinds of calming, anti-anxiety benefits. Think of laughter as the yin to stress’s yang.” If stress can suppress your immune system and lead to sickness, then laughter can have the opposite effect, improving everything from blood flow to brain function.

This is really good news for all of us comedy-lovers who spend hours every night watching re-runs of Modern Family. We’re not just indulging in some quality entertainment; we’re actually working to improve our health and well-being, one giggle-fit at a time. So grab the remote control; here are 6 reasons why laughter therapy is the key to an emotionally satisfying existence.