It Goes On
Robert Frost once said, “I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life in 3 words. It goes on.” And so it does, as things continue to hit the fan. What to do? The answer might be found in humor. Much has been written about the benefits of humor physically, mentally and emotionally. Here are some examples.
A series of recent trials by scientists confirm that laughter is the most effective and inexpensive “drug” on the market. Here are some good reasons to carry on laughing.
Stationary Jogging - Imagine being prescribed laughter for weight loss. It is not as silly as it sounds. Dr William Fry Jr coined the terms “internal aerobics” and “stationary jogging” to describe the physical effects of a good belly laugh. His research found that laughter, like physical exercise speeds up heart rate, expands circulation and enhances oxygen intake. In fact, he calculated that 100 to 200 belly-laughs a day is the equivalent of a high-impact workout that can help you burn off as many as 500 calories.
Internal Massage - Laughter is the ultimate chill pill. We instinctively turn to laughter and humour when we need to rest and relax. Medical researchers have found that while we laugh our upper body is exercised, and after we finish laughing, we experience a physical afterglow in which we relax muscle tension, reduce stress in the nerves, massage the lungs, restore a full and flowing breathing pattern and gently expand our circulation once more. Laughter is the perfect “internal massage”.
Comic Relief - Laughter is a natural pain killer. Norman Cousins is known as the modern Father of Laughter Therapy. In his famous article for the New England Journal of Medicine, Cousins told how he used laughter to heal himself of a painful spinal disease called anakylosing spondylitis. He wrote that he made “the joyous discovery that 10 minutes of genuine belly-laughter had an anaesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” Subsequent research verifies that laughter can produce a feel-good chemical called “endorphins” which help to kill pain.
Happy Cells - The repeated research experiments of Dr Lee Berk at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, CA, shows that laughter, happiness and joy “inspire” the immune system to create white “T” cells, commonly called “happy cells”, which help to prevent infection.
Stress Buster - Laughter is a very effective stress-buster. Psychologists describe people who are prone to frequent bouts of stress as “Type H” personalities. The “H” stands for hostile, hurried and humourless. These people are too busy to be happy, too busy to smile, and too busy to laugh. Dr Patch Adams, the subject of the movie Patch Adams played by Robin Williams, prescribes laughter as a stress buster. “Overseriousness is a medical emergency,” he says. “Morbidity blows problems up, but laughter blows problems off”. Physicians have discovered that the “mirthful laughter experience” physically reduces the serum levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in the body.
Merry Heart - Since time immemorial, sages and physicians have advocated a “merry heart” as the finest medicine. Modern medical research had discovered that laughter is a good medicine for the heart. Cardiologists are keen for heart-attack survivors to rediscover the therapeutic power of humour, laughter and play. Whereas emotions like “anger” can damage the heart; laughter has a positive effect on heart rate and blood pressure.
Shock Absorber - Humour and laughter are excellent shock-absorbers that increase personal resilience during testing times.
It appears that the message is the antidote to those terrible, awful, very bad, no good days is to hunt humor. If we can’t find anything to laugh about, I suppose we can always laugh on credit.
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