It was perfect timing. My wife had just delivered an uproariously funny comedic line causing me to begin to laugh violently. The only problem was that I was exactly in the middle of a swallow of Sprite…and driving at 70 miles per hour! Needless to say, that laugh hurt and caused me to spew Sprite all over myself. I have never experienced trying to laugh mid-swallow before or since, but I do not recommend it. The most humorous part of that experience is that neither my wife nor I could ever remember what it was that she said!
Based on the internet research I did, it appears that no one person is credited with coining the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine.” It seems there are several similar phrases credited to various individuals. Others consider it to derive from Proverbs 17:22 in the Bible which says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Regardless of its origin, it seems to be something that most people believe to be true.
It turns out there have been numerous studies done to find the physical and psychological benefits of laughter. A physician in India even started laughter yoga that turned into laughing clubs all over the world! Laughter goes beyond the mere act of laughing. It influences how we perceive situations and helps us to maintain our mental well-being.
Here is a list of ways I have observed that laughter affects people and situations:
- Laughter breaks the ice and relieves tension. Many times one of the first things we do at a gathering with people we don’t know is an icebreaker. Why? To laugh! Helping people laugh puts them at ease and makes them more comfortable. Laughter can encourage us to let down our guard and be more receptive to other ideas.
- Laughter is the lubrication of relationship. There is no better way to bond with one another than through a good laugh. Some of the most enjoyable experiences our family has are around the dinner table when we all get laughing. The giggling seems to feed on itself and many times we have difficulty returning to normal. Oh, how my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so hard sometimes! Aw…who wants to return to “normal” anyway?
- Laughter lifts your spirits. It is difficult to maintain a bad attitude if a genuine laugh can break through the irritation. One recent study I read about online indicated that laughing with others releases endorphins producing highs similar to that of narcotics. Just try to laugh while keeping a frown on your face!
- Laughter infuses enjoyment into a situation. This is perhaps the most obvious of observations, but laughing helps us to enjoy whatever it is that we are doing at the time. I cannot think of a time when I despised a situation that caused me to laugh. In fact, the exact opposite. I can remember many experiences because they were filled with laughter. Studies seem to validate the fact that laughter can improve memory. One of the ways it does so is by reducing stress. I am certain that a reduction in stress will help all of us enjoy life’s unpredictability.
As you contemplate life, I hope you can remember the last time you had a good laugh. If not, I would encourage you to plan some time to put yourself in a situation to experience some laughter. Maybe that is watching a funny movie, hitting a comedy club, or attending a party with friends. Whatever the case may be, take out your prescription pad and secure a dose of the medicine you need – laughter!
Question: When is the last time you had a really good laugh? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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