Laugh your way to better health!
Have you ever noticed that the people in your office who are happy with a positive outlook rarely get sick, and the unhappy miserable people (or people in general) always seem to be ill?
This observation has become less anecdotal and increasingly backed by research as reported by Barbara & Allan Pease in their book The Answer.
We’ve evolved to deal with short bursts of stress as they appeared (e.g. running from a sabre-toothed tiger) and then returning to our normal state.
Yet, modern life can be filled with the constant anxiety of having a large mortgage, not knowing where your next listing is going to come from, sleep deprivation, or in some cases, serious illnesses and financial problems that can last for decades.
This level of prolonged stress dramatically depletes the immune system and damages our health and well-being.
Laughter is one of the best ways to alleviate stress.
When Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a terminal illness he had been given only a few months to live. After 6 months of self-designed laughter therapy, his doctors were amazed to discover that his disease was gone and he had been completely cured!
He became the pioneer in laugh therapy and the recipient of hundreds of awards including the Peace Medal from the United Nations and 49 honorary doctorates for having challenged the status quo and advocating non-traditional methods for healing.
Norman Cousins’ revealed in his research that 10mins of hard laughing can give you 2 hours of drug-free pain relief.
Further studies show that just 2 minutes of laughing can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones and increase muscle flexion.
This concept is rapidly growing and being accepted in the medical community as clowns have been increasingly involved with pediatric and cancer care.
Since the 1980s, hospitals in America that have a “Laughter Room” reported:
- Shorter average hospitalisation times
- A decrease in the number of pain-killers required
- Patients are easier to deal with
- Overall improvement in patient’s health
This is because laughing boosts the immune system by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies.
Laughter also exercises the internal organs, increases oxygen to the brain and boosts endorphins.
And if you laugh until you cry, this is because tears contain enkephalin – one of the body’s natural pain-relieving tranquillisers. It’s a form of self-anaesthesia.
So instead of taking yourself too seriously, take your laughter seriously!
This weekend, I encourage you to open Netflix and watch something in the comedy category or attend a comedy show. If you’re in Sydney or Melbourne, you could take a comedy class at Laugh-Masters Academy. My business manager Susan will be there along with other improvisers ready to help you re-discover your inner funny bone.
Most importantly, make the decision to never again become angry about the things that you cannot change.
Choosing to see the funny side of negative events is a powerful strategy for reducing stress, preventing illness, increasing your success rate and extending your life.
To quote Barbara & Allan Pease, “Laughter represents the enthusiasm of the human spirit, and in this, we can find out way back to good health.”
Always laugh when you can. It’s cheaper than medicine and much more enjoyable!
– Tom Panos & Susan Zheng