Laughter is Good Medicine

“Only three things in life are real: God, human stupidity, and laughter. But the first two pass our comprehension; we must do what we can with the third,” says Aubrey Menen in The Ramayana.

We must do what we can but are we doing enough?

We are lucky. We are blessed with the greatest gift of all – capacity to laugh. But quite often we are trapped in the cycle of fear, depression, and panic. We forget our best weapon against pain and misery is laughter.

Mark Twain said: “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” But the weapons we use against our fellow humans are weapons of terror, destruction, greed, treachery, and hypocrisy.

But, of course, there are exceptions. In his bestseller, Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins writes about his battle against painful condition of joints and muscles. He says, “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anaesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain free sleep.”

Laughter has been known to be therapeutic for many centuries. But laughter is becoming a rare event in most of our lives as the world becomes faster, smaller, and complicated. We live in a world of instant gratification and band-aid solutions. This does not allow us any time to explore the beauty of the gift of laughter.

Ashley Montagu, who has written about laughter, says that only those animals capable of speech are capable of laughter and the humans being the only animal that speaks, is the only animal that laughs.

So, why do humans laugh? We laugh for many reasons. And for centuries biologists, philosophers, psychologists, and medical doctors have sought a definitive explanation of laughter.

Like anything else, there are positive and negative aspects of laughter. In a negative way, people use laughter to intimidate others, and gain stature over them by humiliating them. We laugh when we compare ourselves with others and find ourselves superior and in fact we laugh at the infirmities of others.

In a positive way, we laugh in order not to cry, we use laughter as a remedy for painful experiences, and we laugh to show our happiness.

The average six years old laughs 300 times a day, the average adult laughs about 170 times a day. Can adults do better?

Sure, we can do better if we have the determination do something about it. First, we need to have a strong desire to live a pain free, stress free, happy, and healthy life. Then we need to assign certain amount of time everyday or every other day to be creative so that laughter is fun rather than a chore to be accomplished.

Here are some helpful hints from www.laughter.com:

-Think funny – find humour in different situations
-Personalize material – adapt humour to personal situations
-Be the target – poke fun at yourself
-Share your humour with others
-Play with children
-Watch comedy shows and movies
-Read funny books, comics, cartoons
-Sing and dance to music
-Seek company of people who are happy and funny

Let me end by telling you couple of doctor jokes taken from laughter.com:

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a bulb?
One, but the light bulb has to want to change!

“Doctor, I can’t stop behaving like a dog.”
“How long have you been acting this way?”
“Since I was a puppy!”

Start reading the preview of my book A Doctor's Journey for free on Amazon. Available on Kindle for $2.99!

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