The Therapeutic Power Of Laughter

‘Laugh and the world laughs with you!’ But studies at the ‘Laughter and Stress Busting Clinic’ in Midlands, UK show that we are laughing much less than our parents and grandparents did. Not only that, we adults laugh much less than children. On average, a child laughs about 50 times a day while adults hardly manage 10 to 15.

This is due to the hustle and bustle of modern living in a society which is more often than not, totally stressed out. Today, we frequently come across the gloom-and-doom type of people who enjoy being so miserable, that you could almost call them ‘professional pessimists.’ All their talk wallows in negative issues. Avoid such people like the plague and surround yourself with people who laugh and make others laugh. There are plenty of ‘unfunny things’ in this world that make us laugh like shyness, nervousness, embarrassment, even anger! Yes! Anger. Next time your spouse is angry, tell him/her to ‘look in the mirror and see how funny you look’. Trust me this really works!!

Laughing and smiling seriously improve your health. If you look at two patients with similar health problems, the one with a sense of humour is more likely to recover faster. Laughter relaxes the body and reduces stress levels and tension by releasing ‘endorphins’ (chemicals) in the brain which lighten your mood and create a feeling of happiness. Eating chocolates and having a good sex-life also releases endorphins. All three should be an integral part of marriage.

Don’t believe me? Try this simple test: Without changing your thoughts, smile (don’t forget to include the eyes) and make a mental note of how you feel. Then change your expression to a frown. Have your feelings changed? Scientists have found that facial-expressions have a profound effect on our emotions and that we feel much better when we smile than when we frown. The mere act of smiling, even if you don’t feel like it, sends positive messages to your body cells while frowning does the opposite.

Apart from having a direct effect on your health and happiness, laughter helps you to learn more quickly since it enhances the way we absorb information. Sit through a lecture stuffed with dry facts and figures and you find that your mind is wandering. On the other hand, if the speaker injects humour and jokes into the subject, the audience absorbs far more.

Norman Cousins, an American, proved the power of laughter when he overcame a potentially disabling spinal disorder by watching funny movies, reading humorous books and relating jokes to his friends. Doctors had told Cousins that his chances of recovery were merely one in 500 with conventional medicine but he cured himself with laughter which had an anaesthetic effect on his pain. Diverting your thoughts to other things can give the nervous system (which directs pain) a chance to relax and forget pain. Thus pain and discomfort are forgotten, tension lifted and the healing process allowed to continue.

Robert Holden, who is the leading authority in this field and author of ‘Laughter, the Best Medicine’, says, “Smiling strengthens the immune system. Laughter has a beneficial effect on the body’s hormonal system whereas serious expressions are damaging and destructive. Laughing lifts lethargy and relative tiredness. People who see the funny side of things are less likely to have stress-related disorders than those who go through life scowling. Just a few minutes of laughter can relax the body and mind for the next hour or so. Laughter results in less panic, anger, fear and stress. People who laugh or smile very rarely are at a greater risk of heart attacks.” He advises people to “smile to yourself as you wake up in the morning.” He warns “don’t take life too seriously, see the funny side of life on a daily basis and be in the company of cheerful people who make you laugh”. As I tell youngsters, don’t just marry a person with money see that he has humour and you are made for life!

In one experiment at New York’s Broadway, a group of actors was asked by doctors to display several different emotions like smiling, surprise, sadness, anger, fear, aggression and revulsion. With each change, the doctors measured the actor’s heart-rate, pulse-rate, skin-temperature and blood-pressure and found higher readings during negative emotions and normal readings when the actors were smiling and laughing.

So you see, laughter is quick, simple and easy. Its’ the best all-round tonic for health and beauty which costs nothing. I feel ‘laughter’ is the spot on the map of life where our buried treasure lies!! I found my treasure long ago through every set-back, tragedy, loss and illness! High time you discover yours!

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