“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”
- Lord Byron
Most of us have heard that saying about laughter being good medicine. I don’t know if most really believe that to be true. But I know I do. In fact my wife and I are probably the winners if an award were ever to be given for “Most Laughs In A Day.” We are always laughing. At ourselves, at each other (not in a mean way of course), and at almost any situation that comes up in our hectic lives. And you know what, I swear it really does seem to keep us physically healthy. And it darn sure helps with our sanity in a life filled with running our business, raising kids, dealing with the everyday pressures of bills and other adult matters, and the many curve balls that come at you in this world. Sometimes it really does come down to laugh or cry. Or laugh or crack up and move into the insane asylum.
We choose laughter.
Interestingly, science does back up what simply feels right about laughter. We aren’t just imagining the positive effects. According to medical reports, a hearty laugh relives physical tension and stress, leaving muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. A good laugh decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting anti-bodies. Laughter also releases endorphins according to studies, which can actually relieve physical pain. It also increases blood flow, which can help with the heart. One study even found that laughter can burn calories. It found that 10 to 15 minutes of laughter a day can burn up to 40 calories. And one study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlive those who did not laugh as much. The difference was particularly noticeable in those battling cancer.
So, you see, it’s not just that laughter is fun, it helps. It’s funny because in a way it sounds like instead of going to the doctor in some cases, our best medicine or best prescription might be to head to a comedy club. Comedians might be our best doctors.
That does remind me of a time talking to a comedian who did make that point, that he considered it part of his duty when on stage to relieve people of their troubles and stresses. Even if all it meant was making them forget about their mental worries for a few minutes.
Life isn’t always perfect. In fact it rarely if ever is. But I have found that unless we are dealing with real tragedy or some other serious setback, laughter is always possible. In Buddhism there is the saying that we cannot control what happens to us, but we can always control our response to what happens. Laughter then is a form of power I think. No matter what is happening to me, or what someone is doing to me, if I can laugh, if I can find humor, I have control. By laughing we are saying nothing is going to stop our joy.
I don’t know how many times a day I laugh. But it is a lot. Especially if my wife is around. She’s like living with Lucille Ball in that she is what I call situational funny. She just inadvertently gets herself into funny predicaments and spouts funny things not intending to be funny at all. The good thing is, she can laugh at herself as much as anybody. And it helps us get through the days, no matter what is going on. So, no matter what is on our plate in a given day, and some days are filled with stressful duties and matters, we also know no matter what, by the time the day ends, we will have cracked up more than a few times. And it gets us through. The mental relief is enough by itself, but as those medical reports indicate, turns out we are also helping our health.
“I have always felt that laughter in the face of reality is probably the finest sound there is and will last until the day when the game is called on account of darkness. In this world, a good time to laugh is any time you can.”
- Linda Ellerbee