What is the correlation between laughter and health? The latest research on “psycho-neuro-immunology” (the effect of the mind on the brain and on the immune system) shows that suppressed anger or feelings of intense hatred or frustration disturbs the natural, healthy functioning of the immune system, and that laughter and happiness have been found to help enhance the immune system.
Experiments conducted by Dr Lee Berk’ of Loma Linda University School of Medicine, CA, have shown that laughing, being happy and experiencing joy encourage the immune system to generate white “T” cells (generally called “happy cells”) which help to inhibit infection. Showing a direct correlation between laughter and health.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, the late 19th century the German philosopher, wrote: “Contentment preserves one even from catching cold. Has a woman who knew that she was well dressed ever caught a cold? – No, not even when she had scarcely a rag to her back!”
And laughter helps to build bridges. Victor Borge, the American entertainer, once wrote, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people”. Through laugher we can inspire love and tolerance and encourage communication.. The actor Alan Alda put it another way: “when people are laughing, they’re generally not killing one another”.
In 1964 Norman Cousins published a book on how he overcame a serious chronic disease (ankylosing spondylitis – a form of arthritis) by laughing himself to wellness. He had been told that he had an irreversible disease. And more articles are been written in many national newspapers and magazines, stating the importance of laughter in healing.
Laughter is essential for our biological health. And I think that the most important element people lack is the ability to laugh at one’s self. When we laugh heartily, our bodies release endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce a sense of well-being, which may work as natural pain killers.
Serotonin is also released into the body helping to build up your psycho-neuro-immunological system. And as we produce a big belly laugh, the vibrations from the laughter help release the stress in all our organs, stress that may have been holding all of our pent up emotions.
I know from experience how hard it is to laugh when we are not feeling well, but regardless of your situation, it is important to seriously bring more laughter into your life. It is essential to your health.
Elizabeth Scott who has spent the past eleven years working with a variety of types of people on stress management, personal growth, and emotional, financial and physical health, has written several articles including The Stress Management and Health Benefits of Laughter. In her article, Ms Scott stresses the benefits of laughter and its therapeutic value. She also makes reference to Humor Therapy, the term given to a therapeutic process which claims beneficial effects from the use of positive emotions associated with laughter.
We can add more laughter to our lives in a systematic way, creating a laughter workout that you can adhere to during the day. You can accomplish this in simple ways. For example, these are some of the things I have incorporated in my life to help me laugh more often:
– watching T.V. shows and movies, making sure they are truly hilarious movies that will help me to get laughter into my life whenever I need it.
– encouraging friends to share funny stories and whenever possible going together to movies and comedy clubs – the contagious effects of laughter helps us to laugh more
– having friends over to share funny stories.
– and I try to find humor in my life by laughing about my frustrations. Instead of complaining about my life’s problems, I try to laugh about them.
And another thing that I did to try and humor myself at the beginning of my illness was to take pictures of everything from my perspective. And of course since all I could do was lie down every picture had my feet in it! So now we have dozens of pictures of my feet!
Remember that laugh lines look better than frown lines. Changing our attitudes is not easy, but laughing at ourselves and our situation will make you feel more lighthearted and silly, and will help you deal better with stress. And laughter is an infectious, universal language. Once you start laughing others around you will follow suit and create a lighter, happier environment for you.
The benefits of laughter are many and there is evidence that our thoughts, emotions and belief systems can impact the body‘s healing mechanisms.. Laughing out loud can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, increase muscle flexion, boost immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, help with pain reduction, and even give you a healthy cardiac exercise. Laughter and health are intricately connected. In other words, it can be the cure for all that ails you.
So, if you feel good when you laugh, then laugh more often to feel better. The Greek poet Pindar wrote: “The best of healers is good cheer”. And the poet Henry Wasdsworth Longfellow said it best when he wrote:
“Joy, temperance and repose, Slam the door on the doctor’s nose”
Some people pursue happiness – others create it! We must create and include our own happiness as a normal routine in our lifestyles. And we can accomplish this simply by laughing more.
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