Laughter is the Best Medicine
by Kelly Jo Fassbinder, Marketing Specialist
The New Year brings a time to reorganize, set goals, and have a fresh start. Some people set goals or resolutions for better health, better balance, new adventures, or things they want to accomplish this year. Personally, I am kind of a goal setter all year around. Whether it’s a good practice I want to continue, a change I think would be beneficial, or an accomplishment I’d like to work towards, I’m always looking at my life’s path.
I think we can all agree 2020 came with its own set of challenges, and as such, I’ve decided to break away from my normal continuous path analysis, and set a goal for the new year - to laugh more! We’ve all heard the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine,” but what does it mean? Is there actually truth to the phrase?
Laughter has a lot of positive impacts on our body. It strengthens your immune system, boosts your mood, can diminish pain, and can protect you from damaging effects of stress. It has been said that nothing works faster, or more dependably, to bring your mind and body back into balance like a good laugh.
As I was thinking about this goal, I decided to find out more about laughter and the benefits. Little did I know, we have a long history with humor. In the 1300s, visionary French surgeon Henri de Mondeville, a professor of surgery, promoted the idea of treating post-operative surgery with humor. He advised telling patients jokes after an operation as a way to ease pain and speed up the recovery process.
He did this because laughing is good for your lungs, boosting your intake of oxygen-rich air and triggers the release of endorphins (feel good hormones that promote an overall sense of well-being). When you laugh your heart rate increases, increasing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your organs and throughout your body.
In addition, Norman Cousins, a journalist and professor, also joined this trend when we developed his own “treatment,” based on a boost in mood through laughter. According to Cousins, just ten minutes of laughter resulted in two hours of pain free sleep.
Beyond the power to heal and renew, laughing can help you feel connected to others. It strengthens relationships, attracts others to us, enhances teamwork, can help defuse conflict, and promotes group bonding.
There is a good reason why TV sitcoms use laugh tracks (the sound of laughter in the background) – because laughter is contagious. The more laughter you bring into your own life, the happier you and those around you will feel. And let’s face it, sharing humor is half the fun! Telling a joke, reciting a funny story, repeating lines from your favorite show or movie, or sharing that new meme or snapchat filter are all ways to bring a smile to your face, and a connection with others. Best yet, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.
So what are some ways you can bring more laughter into your new year?
- Watch a funny movie or TV show
- Check out some stand-up comedy on YouTube
- Read the comics in the newspaper
- Share a good joke or funny story
- Visit the humor section at the library or a bookstore
- Have a family game night
- Listen to music and dance around
Besides physically laughing, there are things you can do to maintain your laughter year around by nurturing your sense of humor.
- Laugh at yourself more often. When something embarrassing happens, turn it into a funny moment.
- Don’t take things so seriously. Look for the humor in a bad situation.
- Surround yourself with reminders. Choose a screensaver that makes you smile, and put out framed photos of you or your family having fun.
- Find your inner child. Play a board game, get a coloring book, or invade your kids’ space and play a video game.
By seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life. I invite you to join me on the new goal this coming year to laugh more!