Laughter is the Best Medicine

>> Thursday, January 31, 2008

I've secretly always wished I could write funny. I even bought two different books on the subject. That's when I should have caught the clue--if you have to buy a book to understand how to write funny, it's NOT your strength.

I received this via my gym today and thought I'd pass it along.

The benefits of a belly laugh
No matter why you are giggling, studies have shown that a laugh will do you good. Laughter helps you deal with a variety of maladies including the stress of daily life. The benefit of laughter on your health is no joke. A sense of humor can't cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the things that laughter can do.

Short-term benefits
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body, beginning with your face.

Long-term effects
Laughter isn't only good for a quick pick-me-up, it's also good for you over the long haul.

Laughter can:
Stimulate your organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

Activate your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.

Soothe tension and tummy aches. Laughter can ease digestion and stimulate circulation which helps reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Laughter may:
Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and by decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more serious illnesses.

Relieve pain. Research increasingly shows that laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural pain killers.

Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make difficult situations a little bit easier.

How to have or gain a sense of humor
Are you afraid you have an underdeveloped or nonexistent funny bone? Developing or refining your own particular sense of humor may be easier than you think.

Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that elicit a chuckle from you or others. Then hang them at home, in your office or even on the visor of your car.

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Develop a sense of humor about your own situation, and watch your stress begin to fade away.

Think positive. Look for the positive or the humorous in every situation, and surround yourself with others who do the same.

Knock-knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library's selection of joke books to get a few rib-ticklers in your repertoire that you can share with friends.

Laughter is the best medicine
Go ahead and try it. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you've had your hearty chuckle, take stock of how you feel. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant?

That's the natural wonder of laughter at work.


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