Laughter as Medicine
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Laughter is one of the best medicines around. It opens our hearts, makes us feel good, reduces stress and anxiety and helps the body to heal. Laughter
lowers blood pressure, improves the immune system and has been known to assist in what we know only as miraculous cures of illness in the body. It
helps you look and feel young and triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer. And what’s more, it’s free.
According to University of California, Irvine Professor Lee Berk, “If we took what we know about the medical benefits of laughter and bottled it up, it would require FDA approval. Laughter can lower blood pressure, trigger a flood of endorphins - the brain chemicals that can bring on euphoria and decrease pain, and enhances our immune systems. Gamma-interferon, a disease-fighting protein, rises with laughter. So do B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies, and T-cells, which orchestrate our body’s immune response. Laughter lowers the flow of stress hormones, which suppress the immune system, raise blood pressure, and increase the number of platelets, which cause clots and potentially fatal coronary artery blockages.”
This all sounds pretty good to me. Why then, is it that most often, the only ones enjoying the benefits of this laughter medicine are the children? They
certainly don’t need to look any younger - they’re kids. Nor do they have stressful jobs or high blood pressure. I guess the question should be, why
aren’t we laughing more often? We don’t need a reason. Laughing is fun and it feels great. And when we don’t take everything so seriously, you find
that there’s quite a lot to laugh about.
Did you know that children tend to laugh an average of 400 times a day? Adults on the other hand only laugh an average of 17 times a day and even then I think that’s pushing it. Some adults can’t even seem to crack a smile. I’ve been walking down the street and smiled at a stranger, only to have them react the same as though I’d given them the finger. When did smiling get to be so offensive?
More recently, some friends and I were in a cafe having a great time reliving some funny moments. As our excitement grew and the stories got incredibly hilarious (to us anyway) in unison, we would burst out roaring with laughter. This laughter was surprisingly met with glares from people at nearby tables, which was followed by a brief silence from us, followed by - of course - another uncontrollable burst of laughter. From that experience it might seem as though adults not only don’t smile and laugh as much as kids, they don’t seem to like others doing it either. I don’t actually think this is the case. I have actually seen times when someone laughing would cause the people around them to laugh too, which is wonderful. And it's almost impossible not to laugh when you see a baby giggling with laughter - it is so beautiful to see the joy bubbling over in children.
If asked, I bet most people would want to smile and laugh more everyday and feel that kind of humour and happiness that they enjoyed as a child. The truth is, they don’t know how, because they’ve forgotten how to be a kid and just have fun. The thing is, most people are just way too serious. They’ve got some idea in their head about what it means to be a ‘grown up’. That usually involves something like having a big job, worrying about what people think, being responsible, controlled and serious. If this sounds like you, it’s time to let go and have some fun.
1. Stop being serious. If you do this you’ll realise there are plenty of things every day you can choose to laugh about.
3. Be a bit silly. Remember what it was like to be a child.
5. Just laugh. Even if there’s nothing to laugh about, try it anyway. You’ll soon be laughing at yourself and that’s always funny.