Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

Almost everything you might ever want to know about why humor and laughter is essential to a happy life can be found here.

Some examples:

“When we laugh, natural killer cells which destroy tumours and viruses increase, along with Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein), T-cells (important for our immune system) and B-cells (which make disease-fighting antibodies). As well as lowering blood pressure, laughter increases oxygen in the blood, which also encourages healing.” "Science of Laughter” Discovery Health Website

“Without humor one's thought processes are likely to become stuck and narrowly focused leading to increased distress.” Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor

“Laughter is very powerful medicine. It can lower stress, dissolve anger and unite families in their resolve to overcome troubled times.” University of Nebraska

"Nothing is good or bad. It is thinking that makes it so." Shakespeare

“By the time a child reaches nursery school, he or she will laugh about 300 times a day. Adults laugh an average of 17 times a day.” “Science of Laughter” Discovery Health


Mental health professionals point out that humor can also teach perspective by helping patients to see reality rather than the distortion that supports their distress. Humor shifts the ways in which we think, and distress is greatly associated with the way we think. It is not situations that generate our stress, it is the meaning we place on the situations. Humor adjusts the meaning of an event so that it is not so overwhelming.

Here are some additional things we can do to improve our mood, enjoyment of life and mental health.

  • Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them – this helps improve our disposition and the disposition of those around us.
  • Use cathartic laughter to release pent-up feelings of anger and frustration in socially acceptable ways.
  • Laugh as a means of reducing tension because laughter is often followed by a state of relaxation.
  • Lower anxiety by visualizing a humorous situation to replace the view of an anxiety-producing situation.

The article also provides social benefits of laughter and humor, so go read the whole thing.

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