Plato, the Greek philosopher's quote, "Even the Gods love jokes," must have some validity, for the merits of laughter are recorded in sacred scripture. For example, the Koran states that "He deserves paradise who makes his companions laugh."
By the fourteenth century, the healing power of humor was recognized by the medical community, but extensive research on 'Laughter Therapy' did not start until the New England Journal of Medicine published an article by Norman Cousins in 1976.
In 1964, Cousins was diagnosed with anklyosing spondilitis and he was given a one in five hundred chance of recovery, and was told that he only had a few months to live. He left the hospital and checked into a hotel where he took mega doses of vitamin C, and watched humorous movies and shows, such as Candid Camera, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and hardy etc.
He found that 10 minutes of hearty laughter resulted in a minimum of 2 hours pain-free sleep. He continued this routine until he was fully recovered. He proved that laughter is the best medicine, and pointed the way to mind-body medicine.
William Fry, MD, professor of psychology at Stanford University medical School, who is a health and laughter expert, reports the average child in kindergarten laughs 400 times a day. As adults, we are lucky to average 4 -6 times a day.
Our five senses are not enough in our daily lives. We need our sixth sense - 'our sense of humor.' Humor isn't just telling jokes, it's the way we view the world. We can take our jobs, our responsibilities seriously, but need to take ourselves more lightly.
The many benefits of laughter
- When \you make fun of yourself, you disarm those who would make fun of you and defuse possible confrontations
- Laughter relieves tension, stress, anger, irritation, grief, and depression. Similar to crying, laughter lowers emotional barriers, allowing the release of pent-up emotions. After a hearty session of laughter, you experience a sense of true well-being
- Medical researchers have found that laughter boosts the immune system
- laughter reduces pain by releasing endorphins that are more powerful than equivalent amounts of morphine
- Humor helps merge the 2 hemispheres of the brain. The left hemisphere is used to interpret the verbal content of a joke. The right hemisphere interprets whether it is funny or not
- laughter adds spice to life. Laughter is to life what rain is to the earth
- When you develop your sense of humor, you become more productive, communicate better, and tend to be a better team player
- Laughter provides the balance we need to get through the many hurdles of life
- Laughter is another form of exercise. It massages all the organs of the body according to Dr. James Walsh
- Laughter / humor helps you to rise to any challenge and handle the unexpected with ease