The Healing Power of Laughter
“Scientists have calculated that only half a minute of joyful laughter is worth 45 minutes of static rest,” reports the Polish weekly Przyjaciółka. “A spontaneous burst of laughter is comparable to three minutes of aerobic exercise, whereas ten warm smiles equal ten minutes of intensive rowing.”
Other benefits of laughing include a threefold increase in the amount of air drawn into the lungs as well as improved circulation, digestion, metabolism, brain function, and elimination of harmful substances. The magazine suggests that to help put yourself in the right mood, you should smile at yourself, your mate, and your children first thing in the morning.
“Learn to laugh at yourself,” it adds. “Try to find the good side of things even in difficult circumstances.”
Laughter Is Good Medicine
“Neurologists at Stanford University have discovered another reason why laughter makes us feel good,” reports the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. “They monitored the brain activity of people reading funny cartoons and found that humor and laughter triggered the brain’s ‘reward centers,’” the same areas affected by stimulant drugs. “Laughter reduces tension, clears the mind, and lifts the spirits,” says the Wellness Letter.
Laughter also increases our hormone production and heart rate, and it contributes to better circulation and muscle tone. “Indeed, a good laugh is a kind of workout,” notes the Wellness Letter. “It’s not exactly a major calorie burner, however—you can laugh yourself silly, but not thin.”
Laughter—Still the Best Medicine!
“A dose of comedy taken daily for four weeks has now been found to reduce significantly the symptoms of depression,” reports The Independent of London. “Some of the patients who were told to spend 30 minutes a day listening to therapeutic tapes of comedians were cured, while others found that the severity of their symptoms had been halved.”
More than 100 studies in the United States have indicated that laughter induced by humor can be beneficial. Not only people who are depressed but also those who had allergies, high blood pressure, weakened immune systems, and even cancer and rheumatoid arthritis have responded.
Laughter has long been known to promote well-being, but just how is not clearly understood. Psychotherapist Dr. Ed Dunkleblau offers some cautionary advice though: Avoid abusive and sarcastic humor, and be careful about being too funny. Otherwise, the patient may feel that his problem is not being taken seriously.
Our mood is intimately linked to our emotional state, which is why we can get along with those around us more easily when we are happy. The most important thing in life is, and always will be, to laugh and smile. By doing this, we automatically improve both our life and our health, and our relationship with the outside world. So don’t let the chance to laugh pass you by!