Laughing Your Way To Health
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on June 27, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
In 1977, Joel Goodman founded The Humor Project, an organization that is focused on the positive power of humor. Since then, The Humor Project has helped over 500,000 businesspeople bring laughter and humor into their business lives.
Goodman says, “Humor fit right into my work. Organizations run better, and people solve problems more creatively when they don’t take things too seriously. When you look for humor, you find it. You enjoy life more – and become more productive.”
Humor, and laughter in particular, is highly contagious! Start smiling and everyone around you will also start smiling. Laughing helps to strengthen bonds between people and also sparks healthy physical changes within a person’s body. Laughter helps strengthen the immune system, eases pain, boosts the body’s energy levels, and helps protect against the damaging effects of stress.
Since laughter is such a wonderful remedy for any type of pain or stress, it works quickly to help bring a person’s mind and body back in balance. Having a good laugh can help inspire and focus your mind. It also forces the mind to think more positively.
In fact, a study was conducted of a group of medical students that were followed for 25 years. By the time they reached the age of 50, 14% whom had been rated as ‘hostile’ had died, whilst only 2% whom had been rated ‘easygoing’ had died.
When they are only a few weeks old, babies start smiling. By nine weeks, they start laughing. By four months of age, a healthy, happy baby will actually laugh several times per hour. They will continue to laugh like this until adults tell them to ‘grow up’.
Sadly, there are some adults who live out days or weeks without ever laughing; some adults even need help in remembering how to laugh again.
Amazingly, when a person does laugh 100 hearty laughs, they are using enough muscles in their body to provide them with the equivalent of 10 minutes on a rowing machine. Laughter is definitely the best medicine for people who are unable to exercise or who are on bed rest.
Another upside to laughter is that it stimulates respiration which increases the oxygen content in the blood which, in turn, helps the body to run more smoothly. It also reduces blood pressure and helps the body to relax quicker. After a really good laugh, the body is left in a relaxed state for 45 minutes.
A great benefit of laughter is that it triggers the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel good chemicals. Endorphins work to promote a sense of wellbeing whilst also working to relieve pain.
There are social benefits to laughter and humor. When you laugh with another person, you are subconsciously creating a very positive bond with each other. Such a bond helps to safeguard against disagreements and stress between the two of you and will help you to forget any resentments or judgments against each other.
Life can throw many challenges in your path and depending on how you deal with them, these challenges can either bring you down into a slump or they can uplift you instead. When you take yourself too seriously it is very difficult to be able to think outside of the box and overcome your challenge; but when have a good sense of humor and can laugh at yourself, you are more than capable of finding a great solution to any problem that may arise in your life.
There are many ways to incorporate laughter into your daily life. Goodman suggests the following:
Laugh at yourself and people will laugh with you.
Smile more. The start of every laugh truly begins with a smile. Plus, smiling is as contagious as laughing is. Smile when you greet other people and practicing smiling while you speak.
Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day write down 5 things that you are grateful for in your life. By doing this you will be able to keep your life in perspective and not dwell on negative thoughts or situations.
Choose your friends wisely. Friends who are playful and fun and that have a great sense of humor are the best types of friends to really have. These are the friends that will be able to pick you up whenever you are feeling down. Plus, since laughter is contagious, your group of friends will seem to have a never-ending laugh-fest.
Laugh at a bad situation. Instead of complaining about a bad situation, try to find the humor or irony in it and laugh at it. Not only will this help improve your mood but it will also help you to find a better outcome to the situation.
Photo Credit: JasonDGreat
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan