When was the last time you had a big belly laugh, a laugh so hard that tears came to your eyes? According to Pamela Gerloff in Psychology Today, “The average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day. The average 40-year-old? Only four.” Laughter is healing. Laughter has the power to heal our bodies, our emotions, our souls and our relationships. Laughter is transformative. As e. e. cummings said,  “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”  So what can we do to laugh more?

Laughter is Good Medicine

Laughter lowers our blood pressure; our stress levels and is good for our hearts.  Norman Cousins claimed in Anatomy of Illness that 10 minutes of belly rippling laughter would give him two hours of pain-free sleep where nothing, not even morphine could help.  If you need more proof of laughter as good medicine, watch Patch Adams starring Robin Williams about the real Patch Adams who brought laughter and fun back into the hospital. Or just try a good dose of laughter for yourself.

Laughter and Stress Don’t Mix

Years ago I had a very stressful job and was going through a divorce. A very insightful friend told me that something had to change. I learned first hand that when we’re really stressed, we stop laughing.  I’ll take the laughter over stress every time.  Now, you can even participate in laughter therapy or laughter yoga.  Healthy laughter is well recognized as a cure for stress. Laughter is self-care. Laughter strengthens our immune system. Laughter is the best medicine.

What Good Laughter Is Not

Laughter is not making fun of another. Laughter doesn’t put another down or ridicule. It’s not sarcasm and never hostile. Laughter is never to be used to make fun of another’s actions, race, religion, beliefs, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or values.   Laughter should never to be used to control, hurt, shame or disrespect another. These actions are not funny. They always destroy relationships.  They cause us to pull away and disconnect.

Deal With The Big Issues First

Laughter is misused when we hide behind big issues instead of dealing with them.  Just putting on a happy face and pushing away or denying feelings of anger, fear and sadness, doesn’t make them go away. Stuffing down the issues and feelings or pushing away actually keeps these feelings stuck inside of us. We feel powerless and like a victim.  There is nothing funny about that. Acknowledge the issue and take action, no matter how small, to make things better. Laughter gets us through the tough times, but we first need to meet the issues head on.

Laughter Connects

Shared laughter creates bonds. With which friends or family members do you enjoy sharing a good laugh? We feel closer with those friends and relatives that we can share a heartfelt belly laugh with.  Humor can heal resentments, and increase intimacy and resilience.  Shared laughter creates the best memories.

You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.
Michael Pritchard

What Makes You Laugh?

  • Who makes you laugh?
  • Who do you make laugh?
  • Can you find humor in everyday situations?
  • Can you laugh at yourself?
  • What TV, movies, or radio makes you laugh?
  • What books or cartoons make you laugh?
  • Share a funny story with a long time friend.
  • Tell stories of a pet or grandchild that make you laugh.
  • Notice and appreciate laughter every day.
  • Make your list of what makes you laugh.

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Join a laughter yoga group.  Take time out of your busy life to play.  Spend time with a small child; her laughter can be infectious.  Don’t take life so seriously by worrying over things you have no control over.  Do what you can and then let go. Take care of yourself.  Good laughter is a part of healthy self-care. Laughter is the best medicine.

 

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