Humor and Wellness
Sometimes All You Can Do Is Laugh
A View on Humor and Health by reader Jen Gavin
Back in the 18th Century humor had a whole different meaning. It was a fundamental element of the 'medical' profession (the term
perhaps has more in common with 'sadist', or 'crazy man' compared to modern standards, descriptions now firmly attributed to dentists).
If you weren't feeling well, then doctors of the day would often blame the humors, what were seen as the most important fluids in the
body. This normally led to the unquestionably scientific conclusion that patients needed to be bled dry in order to make them better,
among other things. Today of course, we tend to associate humor with its other meaning - laughter, and in fact there are some compelling
facts that show having a good laugh could be very beneficial to our health. Interestingly, humors are also still used as a medical term,
but tend not to be associated with extracting fluids from patients until they crumble into dust, which is probably for the best.
More than Just a Laugh
We're probably all aware of some of the more noticeable effects that fits of hysterics have on our bodies - uncontrollable tears,
losing your breath for a moment, abdominal pain after a particularly severe bout of the giggles - the list goes on. In fact, while it
might sound like the physical symptoms of some sort of breakdown or horrific disease, we're often having too much fun to really notice
(or be able to stop!) these physical effects sometimes. These effects however, have a powerful, and positive impact on the body. This
isn't particularly new news in some cases - researchers in 2005 found that blood vessels and blood flow in general were greatly improved
as a result of laughter (ideal if you're about to see an 18th Century doctor) - but there are more revelations happening all the time
which are starting to explain the science behind our addiction to laughter. It doesn't just benefit our physical health, but our mental
health too. We all know someone who seems to be able to laugh everything off, or stay in high spirits no matter how bad things get, and
in fact laughing is the key here. Studies have found that laughing can help reduce stress, keep our minds sharper, and as a result has
started to be used as a component of wider therapy for everyone from cancer patients to those suffering from addictions. In fact, making
sure humor remains in our lives after such therapy can also be a great help to recovering addicts, and staying positive as a result has
its own benefits that can help keep anyone on the wagon.
Getting More Laughter in Your Life
Sometimes, no matter how upbeat you might be, things are going to get you down from time to time. This is where making sure you laugh
even more is essential! While it's probably not advisable to laugh vigorously in your boss's face after you've just been fired,
reflecting on these kind of events afterwards can often give us some much needed perspective, and help us see the funny side. Of course,
there are a few things you can do to make sure you're chuckling as much as possible. The most obvious perhaps (and something most of us
probably already do) is simply watching your favorite comedy show on TV, going to live stand up shows, and so on. These are great staples
to keep you laughing, but there's also a number of interesting and unique ways to keep happy and positive, such as 'Laughter Yoga' (which
get you smiling before you've even stepped through the door by simply thinking about what it could entail), and of course surrounding
yourself with friends that make you laugh. When all is said and done though, laughter is indicative of something deeper in our psyche -
we're often likely to find the humor in everyday events if we have an open, free and accepting approach to life and the world, but in the
end, no matter how angry or sad you might feel, there will always be something ready to set you off in hysterics - you just have to find
it - the rest will take care of itself.
Find the Downeast way to health with Gary Crocker, your UnRegistered Maine
Gary believes that the power of humor
can improve any situation. His hilarious tales, shared in the classic Maine storytelling tradition, will help those in your
company or organization to appreciate our constant and healthy need for laughter.
After warming his audience with such
favorites as "Why I Love Baked Beans" and "How I Met Muthah," Gary Crocker can convey a powerful message:
Laughter heals. He tells the true story about Norman Cousins, who was told by doctors that he would not live long due to a
connective-tissue disorder. Cousins refused to accept the verdict and found alternative ways to heal himself. He wrote
"Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient," and surrounded himself with humor and a positive environment.
These laughs went on to add years to Norman Cousin's life.
Following jokes and a hearty set of laughter, Gary tells
his audience, "when you laugh, as we have been doing right now, your brain releases endorphins in your body. It's a
natural painkiller. It's a gift from God. You don't have to buy it, you don't have to search for it; it's right there, handy
to all people. Be kind and share your laughter with others."