“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” Voltaire, French Philosopher
Are there really health benefits to laughter, other than it feels good in the moment? Yes there is and it is confirmed not only through scripture and sages of the past, but also from medical research. Unchecked long held stresses over time contribute to illness.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Proverbs 17:22
Laughter releases the hormones that heal our physical body and strengthens our heart and immune system. Hearty laughter exercises our heart – lowers blood pressure, gives our lungs a workout, releases tension in all parts of our body and releases opiates in our blood system giving us a high – a lift.
Within humor and laughter we find:
- An expanded view of life – we see a larger picture
- We can be real – we no longer have to pretend we are something we are not
- It enlarges possibilities and encourages us to take a risk
- Turns over powerlessness and tickles its tummy
- Humor helps us cope and survive in even the most horrible conditions
- Humor gives us power – laughter reinforces it
- It helps us overcome fear, anxiety and uncertainty
- Humor removes the rough edges and fills in the deep chasms of distress
- Our rigid beliefs, thoughts and attitudes meet the Charlie Chapman’s of this world
- Releases the pressure cooker of anger, hostility and fear. “Rage is impossible when mirth prevails”
- Laughter is the freedom we experience when we disconnect from the dreadfulness of events
- Humor reveals potential solutions – we are able to see options
- Humor gives us a way out – it balances life
- It helps us live with our imperfections
- Tears of laughter are as beneficial as tears of sorrow. They carry harmful toxins out of the body
- Humor and laughter diminish our emotional pain
- Humor breaks a deadly self-fulfilling prophecy of doom
- Laughter brings people together
There are many reasons why we don’t laugh more. The more common is embarrassment, rejection, criticism and not wanting to give up the immediate benefits of being angry. Sometimes we hesitate to laugh because we were told as children to be more serious.
But I would rather laugh – looking for that kernel of the absurd and ridiculous and then creating that moment of freedom to laugh at myself and my world.