The Healing Powers Of Fun and Laughter

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As I watch my daughters, especially when they are with their friends, there is just so much joy, fun and laughter.  Recently, my eldest said to me, “Mom you need to do more fun things.  Have some fun in your life.”   I must admit I tend to be such an introspective person and can read or sit in front of the computer (researching) for hours.  I lose sight of incorporating just pure fun which many times leads to laughter.  Looking at it from an “energetic” point of view, laughter vibrates at a high frequency and therefore can help shift a person’s health in many forms.

Fun and laughter can…
  • Dispel (at least temporally) distressing emotions like anxiety, anger, sadness and possibly give you a better frame of mind to deal with a difficult situation.
  • Cleanse you physically and emotionally due to its “releasing” effects.
  • Reduce stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) which increase stress, tension and inflammation.
  • Increase the feel good hormones like endorphins which are neurotransmitters found in the brain that have pain relieving properties similar to morphine and which rid the body of waste acids.
  • Keep you healthy by increasing the white blood cells which are essential for your immune system as well as raising infection-fighting antibodies
Studies

Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After the screening, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally, they expanded and contracted easily. But the blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, which restricted blood flow.  I can only imagine what horror or violent flicks can do to our blood vessels.  Also, the comedy or comedian you watch must truly be funny to you.  If it is only marginally funny it may actually frustrate you which will not give you any of the benefits of laughter

Experts have also found that while laughing we stretch muscles through-out our face, contract the abs and even work out the shoulders.  This leaves muscles more relaxed.   It even provides a work out for the heart because the pulse and blood pressure increase.  Additionally, we breathe faster which sends more oxygen to our tissues.

The Norman Cousins Story

Norman Cousins was a writer and became editor for 35 years of the Saturday Review. His story begins in 1964, when doctors diagnosed him with a condition which affects the spine; it could have been Ankylosing Spondylitis or a type of severe arthritis.  Either way he was not given any hope for recovery.  At the time he was basically incapacitated and could not work.  Cousins decided to take his health into his own hands and eventually did three things completely contrary to medical opinion.

First he asked to be weaned off his medications because he discovered how harmful they were.  He also thought that his body needed therapeutic levels of Vitamin C and so he took high dosages of this supplement.  Secondly, he decided to leave the hospital because he concluded that a hospital was “no place for a person who is seriously ill” what with their haphazard hygiene practices, culture of overmedication, general feelings of negativity, and routines that disrupted basic sleep patterns.

Thirdly, Cousins got a hold of a projector (no DVD or videos then) and a large supply of funny films, including Candid Camera tapes and several old prints of Marx Brother’s movies.  Cousins found that he laughed so hard at the films that he was able to stimulate chemicals in his body that allowed him several hours of pain free sleep.  When the pain would return he would simply turn the projector back on and the laughter would re-induce sleep, and he was able to measure the changes in his body by measuring his blood sedimentation rate, a key measurement of inflammation and infection in the blood, and found that this rate dropped by at least 5 points each time he watched one of these films.

He eventually returned to his job as editor of the Saturday Review.  He was not 100% recovered but dramatic enough to “have a life”.  What gave Cousins the idea of trying laughter and positive emotions?  While in the hospital Cousins theorized that if negative emotions such as anger and frustration could contribute to poor health, why couldn’t positive emotions such as joy and laughter have the opposite effect?  Cousins soon embraced this idea, and this contributed to an optimistic attitude that seems to have reversed much of his severe illness.

Be “In the Now”

The time is NOW to laugh and be happy.  We used to do it everyday as youngsters.  Actually having fun and laughing always seems to put you in the NOW moment.  Very few people think about what tends to trouble them.  Maybe this is why people enjoy vacations so much because they distance themselves from what troubles them and focus on fun and enjoyment.

My husband and I recently sat down and discussed having more fun and laughing on a daily basis.  He jumped at the idea and now wants me to open up a Netflix account so that we can rent comedies and watch comedians on their tour shows.  We are also doing much more bike riding as a family and playing more board games.  A game night with neighbor may be in the works.  Recently we booked our first cruise which we plan to take during the Thanksgiving week.  Scientist Boris Sokoloff explained, “Like swimming, riding, writing, or playing golf, happiness can be learned.”

I’m off to have fun with my girls; I invite you to play and laugh a lot more.    Share your stories.

You can begin your commitment to laughing by watching these funny videos or any other ones you deem funny –

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