“Laughter is the best medicine.” We may never know where this quote originated, but it’s a good one. The benefits of a loud, robust belly laugh are many!
According to many internet sites laughter has great short-term effects. When you laugh, it doesn’t just lift you mentally, it induces physical changes, too. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins (natural pain-killing chemicals) that are released by your brain.
A rambunctious laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Laughter also can stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.The result? A calm and relaxed feeling.
I’m not surprised by this information. I know when I am laughing and happy I feel so much better. For me, just hearing people laugh, especially a baby’s’ sweet giggle, can make me smile,
Another quote about keeping our spirits up comes from the Bible: “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” — Proverbs 17:22 (New King James Version)
That’s another confirmation to be happy and to have a positive attitude. Try it yourself. Pay attention to how your body reacts when you are down and out and overwhelmed with negativity. Then notice the difference when you are laughing and having fun.
Find your happy spot. What makes you laugh? Is it a standup comedian who totally gets how it is to raise a two-year-old and stay sane, or is it hearing about the comic changes of the dating scene after a divorce that brings you laughter? Possibly, it’s a comedy about the perils of marriage, the good the bad and the ugly!
While researching for this column, I have read many stories about a man named Norman Cousins. He was known as the man who cured himself with laughter. Mr. Cousins had impressive credentials. He was an American political journalist (he was editor-in-chief of the Saturday Review for more than 35 years) and author of many books, he was a professor and world peace advocate. He also was recipient of many awards.
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