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Laughter Is Good Medicine

If Love is the treasure, Laughter is the key – Yakov Smirnoff

Research shows that laughter has both short term and long term effects on all levels of our wellbeing, mentally, emotionally and physically. Simply, when people laugh a lot they are happier, healthier and have more energy. Of course, some doctors negate the research because it’s hard to determine the real cause and effects. It’s not easy to measure. Nonetheless, everyone knows from personal experience, that we just feel so darn good after a big belly laugh!

Throughout our civilization, we’ve had works of art depicting both tragedies and comedies. Humor is part of our nature. Public interest and serious research into using laughter as medicine grew in the 1960’s. In 1964, Norman Cousins, who later wrote the book, Anatomy of an Illness, revealed that laughter from watching funny movies helped him recover from a degenerative disease and was more effective than morphine to reduce pain and induce sleep. Dr. Patch Adams became famous from the film starring Robin Williams, who began a movement of incorporating laughter at the bedside and spurred legions of volunteer hospital clowns to this day.

Today, comedy is not only big business with the success of Late Night TV and multi-million dollar movies, but also, it’s a serious business with bona fide research on the therapeutic application of laughter to combat illness. We have psychologist who specialize in laughter therapy. There are humor scholars who publish papers, research and speak at conferences such as American Association for Therapeutic Humor. There’s even a laughing style yoga and an online laughter university to learn laughter wellness. This stuff works!

Perhaps, some doctors aren’t convinced about the healing power of laughter. So be it. We know for a fact that laughter gives us immediate relief by reducing stress. It’s also contagious and makes others around us feel better. In the long run, it helps us maintain a more positive outlook which gives us hope and better coping mechanisms. Certainly, that’s worth a giggle, gaggle or cackle!

Here are some stats you can sink your teeth into:

Physical changes from laughter:

  • Increase circulation and blood flow

  • Stimulates muscles and organs such as heart and lungs

  • Increase our immune system to fight infection

  • Reduce colds

  • Relieves pain

  • Improves cardiac health and blood pressure

  • Gives your abs a workout

Mental and Emotional benefits:

  • Increases endorphins – our bodies’ natural painkillers

  • Reduce stress hormones

  • Helps us relax

  • Helps us cope

  • Increases creativity

  • Gives us hope

  • Makes life much more enjoyable

  • Attracts more positivity

  • Improves relationships

  • Makes us kinder

Here are some ways to create more laughter:

  • Go to a comedy club

  • Join an improv group

  • Read the cartoons before and after you read the news

  • Hang out with funny people

  • Find jokes or write your own and spread them around

  • Watch funny movies or YouTube videos

  • Laugh at yourself (in a good way)

As Maya Angelou said, “Every day offers you 10,000 reasons to cry, but if you can find just one reason to laugh then you will be all right.”

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