Emotional and spiritual growth can seem pretty serious sometimes… We have meditations to do, goals to achieve, visualizations to make, and money to attract! Fortunately, amazing people are paving the way to new and different ways to create your reality. One of them is laughter therapy. Laughter is contagious and this humorous and healing practice is a great way to bring back an inner smile.
Laughter, One of the Best Medicines
– By Susan Williamson
A merry heart doeth good a medicine:…Proverbs 17:22
You’ve heard of people saying “I died laughing,” but have you ever heard someone say “I laughed myself healthy?”
That is exactly what Norman Cousins did. From 1942-1972, Norman was the editor-in-chief of the Saturday Review. In 1964 he was diagnosed with ankylosis spondylitis, which is a painful disease that causes disintegration of the spinal connective tissue. He was given a 1 in 500 chance of recovery.
Cousins checked himself out of the hospital and decided to infuse himself with humor therapy numerous times throughout the day. He found that for every 15 min. of hearty laughter it would produce 2 hours of painless sleep. He would watch numerous films of the Marx Brothers, 3 stooges, and other funny movies to induce the hearty laughter.
Cousins was able to monitor the changes in his body by measuring his blood sedimentation rate, a key measurement of inflammation and infection in the blood. He found that this rate dropped by about 5 points each time he watched the funny movies.
Cousins described being in a state of euphoria over the next week as he continued to laugh himself back to health. Within a few weeks the editor was back to work at the Saturday Review as his body continued to recover.
Cousins later wrote Anatomy of an Illness, a best selling book about his illness and recovery.
You may think this seems a bit far-fetched, but patients, doctors and health care professionals are finding that laughter may indeed be the best medicine.
The benefits of humor and laughter to the body have been studied and have definitely been proven advantageous as a healing therapy.
The scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of humor to the body has been overwhelming. Published studies have shown that laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts the immune system by raising the levels of infection fighting T-cells, disease fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease destroying antibodies. Endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkiller are also released with laughter. Overall, laughter produces a general sense of well-being.
Joyful laughter is eustress – stress that is deemed healthful or giving a feeling of fulfillment. It empties the lungs of more air than it takes in, resulting in a cleansing effect – similar to deep breathing. This is especially helpful to people who suffer from emphysema and other respiratory ailments.
Due to the exponential discoveries with laughter and humor therapy, hospitals are incorporating laughter therapy programs into their therapeutic regimens. In some foreign countries they even have laughing clubs, where participants gather in the early morning for the sole purpose of laughing. Some clubs have even begun in the US.
Laughter is an aerobic exercise, like internal jogging. It provides a workout for the diaphragm and increases the body’s ability to use oxygen. Besides being an exercise routine it also brings about positive emotions, which enhances the healing and emotional state of a person.
Reduction in pain, as Norman Cousins demonstrated, is another attribute to laughter. In the Journal of Holistic Nursing a study was published where the patients were told one-line jokes after surgery and before painful medication was administered. Those exposed to humor perceived less pain when compared to patients who didn’t get a dose of humor as part of their therapy.
After researching the therapeutic effect of humor on the body I decided to conduct my own humor study. I e-mailed several people on my contact list and asked them if they wanted to participate in a study that I was conducting called the ‘Humor Me’ study. They were to reply to me on a daily basis on a scale of 1-10 (1 was really yucky and 10 was exuberant) regarding how they felt physically, mentally, and spiritually. Mental and spiritual aspects are just as important in overall health as the physical aspects and they can definitely affect one another. They were instructed to take medicine two times daily. The medicine was to laugh out loud for about three minutes in the morning and in the evening. They were also sent a joke and a funny 1-3 min YouTube video to help them take their medicine. The participants were between the ages of 21-60 with occupations ranging from office manager, teacher assistant, minister, pharmacy tech to retired.
The results were quite interesting on day 1 the averages on the scale 1-10 were physically 5.9, mentally 6.9, and spiritually 7.3. After 7 days with nothing given but two doses of laughter the participants felt 20% better physically, 19% better mentally, and 16% better spiritually.
The real surprising information was the feedback given from the participants. By day 3 one person stated that her headaches were better and another stated that she slept better. On day 5 one person even commented that he felt 10 years younger from laughing so much.
A few of the jokes from the study:
1. A Little girl went up to her mother one day while holding her stomach saying, “Mommy, my stomach hurts.” Her mother replied, “That’s because it’s empty, you have to put something into it!” Later that day when the Evangelist and her husband were over for dinner. The Evangelist began to feel bad. Holding her head she said, “I have such a terrible headache!” The little girl looked up at her giving her the sweetest smile that any little child could give. Then she said, “That’s because it’s empty, you have to put something into it!”
2. Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam’s ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said,
Johnny what is the matter? Little Johnny responded, “I have a pain in my side. I think I’m going to have a wife.”
After the study was completed, several commented how they missed receiving their daily therapy. They remarked how each day they woke up with anticipation to see what their daily medicine would entail. They also said it was nice and relaxing in the evening when they took their evening therapy. Some said they intend to continue looking for humor everyday because it really did make them feel better overall.
Humor and laughter is advantageous to the body and health in general, but the greatest benefit of laughter is that it is free and has no negatives side effects to the body.
So, create some internal jogging and laugh yourself healthy.
My name is Susan and I’m a Health and Life Coach. You can get my free newsletter at http://www.maximizeyourlifecoach.com