"Always laugh when you can. It's cheap medicine"- These words from the prolific comedy writer, Larry Gelbart, seem to describe best what most of us know from our own experiences with laughing: it not only makes us happier, it also makes us stronger and, in many cases, healthier.
When I first came up with the idea of creating a new humor web-site, my goals, I have to admit, were quite modest. I always loved dealing with funny materials, and the site gave me a chance to know some jokes that would later help me turn even the dullest social gatherings to an orchestra of roaring laughs.
But it wasn't until I started getting responses from people visiting the site that I began to realize how important even a couple of good jokes a day can be.
I became really interested in this phenomenon called humor and laughter, and began to ask myself if apart from it's obvious social benefits, it also has a real physical influence. In recent years, brain-scientists has been exploring the positive responses of the body to funny experiences, a subject that has been mostly neglected and over-shadowed for ages by studies about depression, fear and anger. Though in it's early stages, already some small studies imply that brain activity from humor can reduce feelings of pain, prevent negative stress reactions and boost the brain's biological battle against infection.
There are also various groups of scientists and doctors who are working hard to push forward some non-conventional treatments that involves laughter as a form of therapy. Within the field of Psychotherapy, text and handbooks have appeared, all advocating the application of humor (One "Psychohumorist" even offers advice heavily loaded with humor on how to deal with life and work-related stress). There is an Interdisciplinary American Association for Therapeutic Humor (AATH), that promotes the healing power of laughing and humor. There are even guidelines on how to form your own local laughter clubs, which purportedly can help you achieve such idealistic goals as personal health and happiness. Around the world this kind of Laughter clubs, where people meet in circles, hold hands together and start laughing as if there is no tomorrow, are spreading quite rapidly.
Laughter becomes an important tool in keeping a healthy way of life and in treating mental and physical problems, whether big or small. While it is not always clear what is the direct influence of humor on the physical body and what is the biological response it creates, it is quite clear today that there is a beneficial effect of humor and laughter on the body, mind and spirit, and that attention only to the physical body when trying to keep a healthy being or during treatment in illness will yield only a partial or temporary recovery.
For me, the scientific researches and the testimony of both patients and caregivers, emphasizing how important a good laugh was in the therapy process, were all in harmony with the reactions I got from visitors in my site. An elderly man from Florida once wrote me that "It is with the help of laughter that I keep winning the battle against all sicknesses."
I'm not sure if a few jokes could promise us life of eternity, but I now know that it is exactly this kind of simple stuff that helps different people from around the world enjoy life a little more. Even if humor doesn't make us live longer, it sure does make us live better, and if it is thanks to my humor site that someone in this world could improve his life with a smile, then it sure has made my life richer and more fulfilling.