A nurse walked out of the delivery room and said to the man whose wife just gave birth, “Congratulations sir, you’re the father of twins!” The man replied, “How about that, I work for the Doublemint Chewing Gum Company.”
About an hour later, the same nurse entered the waiting room of expectant fathers and announced that Mr. Smith’s wife has just had triplets. Mr. Smith stood up and said, “Well, how do you like that, I work for the 3M Company.”
The next expecting father started to leave. When asked why he was leaving, he said, “I think I need a breath of fresh air. I work for 7-UP.”
How many times have you heard, “Laughter is the best medicine?”
The origin of laughter as the best medicine can be found in Proverbs 17:22:
“A joyful heart is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
Laughing is an excellent way to reduce stress and help cope with a stressful lifestyle. Laughter therapy aims to get people laughing in both group and individual sessions, reduce stress, make people happier and improve one’s health.
In 1979, Norman Cousins published a book titled Anatomy of an Illness in which he described his battle with a fatal disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rare disease of the connective tissues. He refused to accept his fatal prognosis and discovered the benefits of humor in combating the disease. Cousins was quoted to say, “Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.” Jogging, like laughing causes our body to produce endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters produced by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain in response to certain activities that inhibit pain and produce the “feel good” feeling. Endorphins produce what is commonly known as “runners high”.
Dr. William F. Fry, a psychiatrist from Stanford University, California began to examine the physiological effects of laughter in the late 1960’s and is considered to be the father of ‘gelotology’ (the science of laughter). One of his studies confirmed that 20 seconds of intense laughter, even if ‘faked’, can double the heart rate for three to five minutes and may decrease your chances of respiratory infections.
Dr. Lee Berk from Loma Linda University Medical Center was inspired by Norman Cousins. Dr. Berk and his team of researchers from the field of psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI) studied the physical impact of laughter. In one study heart attack patients were divided into two groups: one half was placed under standard medical care while the other half watched humorous videos for thirty minutes each day. After one year the ‘humor’ group had fewer arrhythmia’s, lower blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones and required lower doses of medication.
How do you “practice” or engage in laughter as therapy? One way is Laughter Yoga. Laughter Yoga (Hasya yoga) is a yoga practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter and asserts that laughter comes from the body not the mind.
Laughter Yoga is practiced in groups where they combine eye contact with ‘childlike playfulness’ and laughter exercises. Fake laughter then quickly becomes real. Laughter Yoga brings more oxygen to the body and brain by incorporating yogic breathing.
So tonight, try a Marx Brothers movie, a comedy club, or some Laughter Yoga. It just may be what the doctor ordered.