Laughter Still Best Medicine

by Anne Bennett on November 4, 2011

Participants in a laughing yoga class in Vietnam. Looks like fun, doesn’t it?

My mother often told me that when I die I will have killed my best audience.

She was right. I have always gotten the biggest kick out of myself, which, it turns out, may help me to live a longer and healthier life.

Recent studies suggest that laughing out loud (not just smiling at something amusing) helps to lower blood pressure, improve the immune system, reduce stress as well as depression.

Apparently, laughter triggers a release of endorphins, those feel-good chemicals, in the brain, and distracts us from pain. Indeed, people who laugh need less pain medication after surgery, although I can’t imagine laughing my way out of the recovery room.

Once again, researchers point out that the kind of laughter needed to provide these benefits is not polite chuckling, but loud, all-out belly-laughing until you’re out of breath. And it isn’t always associated with telling jokes. Real laughter springs unconsciously, and is most often experienced when people are together with at least another person. Laughter is social — we laugh when we hear others laugh.

This means I’m going to have to learn to share my humor in ways that benefit others as well as myself. I can’t keep all this hilarity to myself; it wouldn’t be fair! God, I get a kick out of myself.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lin November 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Anne, your humor and laughter make the world a little brighter; keep us laughing. 🙂

Mike November 9, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Anne– one of the reasons I keep going to meetings is your humor. You make valid important points in discussing the program, but you use humor to make those points interesting. Anyone can stand up there and tell us the program, humor keeps it interesting, humor keeps it from being drudgery, humor keeps it from being a gulag of weight loss.

I’ve valued a good sense of humor my whole life and don’t have time for people who cannot find time to laugh in almost any situation. Though my humor tends to run more to the “That’s not funny, that’s sick” side of things, I use it everyday. To quote the immortal bard, Jimmy Buffett, in his song “Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes”:

“Its these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldnt laugh we would all go insane”


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