“Of all the gifts bestowed by nature on human beings, hearty laughter must be close to the top.” – Norman Cousins
“Human beings need to have fun. We need to play, and most importantly, we need to laugh.” -Hal Urban
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” – Solomon 17:22
“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest of men.”- Ancient proverb
“There ain’t much fun in medicine, but there’s a heck of a lot of medicine in fun.” – Josh Billings
Laugh out loud. Play. Be Silly. Joke around. Have Fun! These are just some of the things I think of when I see children play. I watched a young girl today make the most mundane activity a joyful experience not only for her but for her granddad and mother. All three were walking along the sidewalk, destination unknown, but she playfully walked tagging one caretaker and then the other. She giggled, skipped, and made all those around her including myself chuckle out loud.
Where does that spirit go? I see children playing at the park, laughing, and having a grand ole’ time; hopping, skipping, and twirling around with not a care in the world. When does that dwindle? Life takes over, responsibilities become priorities, and work turns into a necessity. Yet I know deep in my heart, I still love to play, giggle like that 7 year old girl, and act silly. Those are some of my fondest of memories with friends, partners, and family. It’s free, fun and even good for the mind and body.
In the book, Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins said, “It worked. I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an aesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.”
Even Einstein ensured he had a daily dose of laughter in his long, arduous hours of mathematical equations. He was known for maintaining thousands of notebooks on scientific equations and on jokes. He was able to work extremely long hours due to frequent breaks and using good ole’ fashion laughter to lighten his load (Urban, H.).
Laughter is not only used by humans such as Einstein and Edison but also animals. Chimps use laughter to solidify friendships and alliances according to lead author Marina Davila-Ross, PhD from the University of Portsmouth in England (Dingfelder, S.).
Here are just a few of the benefits of laughter:
- Strong painkiller
- Enhances respiration
- Produces endorphins
- Increases immune cells
- Strengthens immune systems
- Reduces stress and tension
- Calms tempers
- Stimulates creativity
- Improves blood flow
- Builds and strengthens relationships
- Simply makes life more fun!
There are so many positives to laughter. It’s impractical not to incorporate it into your daily routine. Doctors and laymen alike support amusement so why not you? You may be asking, well how do I begin?
There is no easier way than to start with yourself. You don’t have to look far to see humor in the silly things we do, like tripping over our own two left feet, clamoring over misspoken words, or our own goofy thoughts that run through our minds. There’s nothing like using yourself as your own tool to bring hilarity and heal yourself. When was the last time you laughed out loud; I mean a good ole-fashioned belly laugh?
Here are some recommended items to ensure you laugh daily. What do you do to ensure a good chuckle?
- Zorba the Greek
- A Thousand Clowns
- Patch Adams
- Candid Camera
- America’s Funniest Home Videos
- Reader’s Digest: “Laughter, the Best Medicine”
- Comic Books
- Mad Magazine
Dingfelder, S. Chimps’ laughter: Not just monkey see, monkey do, May 2011, Vol 42, No. 5, p. 11
Urban, H. Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter, 4th Edition, Fireside, New York