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 Guide
Testifying to the Healing Power of Humor
April 8th, 2005
"...With the help of your Wellness/Humor presentation, everyone left asking when we could do it again. We all know that doctors can sometimes be a very difficult crowd to deal with. You provided the perfect mix of humor and the importance of humor to health...I cannot thank you enough for making our retreat a huge success."
Peninsula Primary Care
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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."