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Laughter is good medicine


In a recent business magazine article, a top executive was quoted, “Laughter in the work place is a waste of time. This is a place to do business, not indulge in the luxury of humor.”

Many researchers, however, would beg to differ with his somber opinion. According to Kris Jenkins, human environmental sciences specialist with University of Missouri Extension, “Research has shown that laughter is essential to your wellbeing and confirms that insufficient laughter could be hazardous to your health.” As scientists have learned more about the brain, they’ve discovered that smiles and laughter stimulate the brain to secrete chemicals, including endorphins, which seem to stimulate healing, increase happiness and reduce pain.

Why do you need laughter in your life? “Laughter is a powerful tool for your health. It can provide muscle relaxation, release from anger and fear, stress reduction, prevention of heart disease, reduction in headaches and anxiety, and much needed socialization,” said Jenkins.

Considerable research has been conducted on the medical affects of laughter. In a series of studies at Loma Linda University in California, people exposed to regular doses of humor showed a significant increase in their immune system (the system that fights off disease and infection). While stress can weaken immune systems, humor can help strengthen them.

Do you need more humor in your life? Jenkins suggests that you try the following:

  • Seek out humor. Do certain friends or family make you laugh? Find reasons to be around them.
  • Surround yourself with humor. Post cartoons around the house to remind you that humor helps.
  • Laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten your attitudes about yourself, and your anxieties will become lighter too.
  • Don’t worry or analyze why people laugh — just appreciate it and laugh along with them.
  • Think funny. Look for the humorous side of an otherwise difficult situation. Remember that laughter promotes healing (physically, mentally and emotionally).
  • Make laughter last. Write down the amusing things that happen and save them for a sad day.
  • Prepare a first-aid laughter kit. This kit could include those funny quotes or stories you’ve jotted down, books, cartoons, CD’s or videos, memorabilia, etc. — resources that you know will really get you laughing when you need it most.
  • Be open to silly things. Humor the child within yourself.
  • Laugh along with others for what they do rather than laughing at people for what they are. In other words, leave the negativity out of it.

Humorist Bennett Cerf believed that humor is nonsensical and individual and exists only in the mind. As he said, “Humor is like bad taste in clothing — there is no accounting for it.”

Research has proven that laughter is indeed good medicine, so make time for humor today.


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Last Updated 10/24/2011