It wasn’t until I went through one of the darkest seasons of my life, that I learned about the power of laughter. When anxiety rears its ugly head, or depression seems to wake you up, it feels like the end of the world. I’ve found that light is much closer than we think, closer than our very breath…
Have you ever heard of a man named Norman Cousins? Me neither. Not until recently when I was moved by his story. Cousins, a political journalist took a trip to Russia and contracted ankylosing spondylitis. It was a form of arthritis in the spine and caused grueling pain that hospitalized him. His doctor told him that only one in five hundred people ever recovered and to not get his hopes up!
Cousins decided to leave the hospital, head to a hotel, went off all his pain medication, increased his vitamin C intake and watched old Candid Camera episodes and Marx Brothers movies. Long story short, it worked.
Within a few weeks, his pain was brought down to a level where he could go back to work and eventually entered into a full recovery. Cousins mentioned that ten minutes of true belly laughter provided him with two hours of pain-free sleep in the early days of his diagnosis.
It should come as no surprise that laughter produces joy in our life and joy means better emotional and physical health. Solomon said it perfectly, “A joyful heart is a good medicine.”
Here I was, feeling like I was drowning in anxiety, and laughter was the last thing I thought I needed. We have all had the cloud that floated over us. Feeling like our own version of Eeyore, wondering when it’ll lift. Cousins, among many others, have proved to us that laughter is good for us. Especially in the moments where things happening in our life don’t seem funny. That is when it truly shines. In fact, it does four things for our body:
- Laughter opens up our lungs to breathe more deeply, raises our heart rate and engages our muscles, which then improves all of our circulations.
- Laughter stops our body from producing the stress hormones that repress our immune system and make us more susceptible to disease.
- Laughter activates our immune system, which gives our bodies a fighting chance to defeat cancer, viruses and much more.
- Laughter scatters negative emotions and thoughts and produces positive and uplifting ones, which gives us hope for our present circumstances.
Laughter does not just have to stem from humor, it is a language spoken internationally and, honestly, universally. It involves others. It connects you with people and brings you into a community. It was made for your joy, for your heart and for your emotional and physical well-being.
Just like counseling, exercise and eating healthy are all things that are encouraged for your optimum health, laughter should be added to this list as well. It plays a vital role in ensuring we are staying rooted in optimistic thinking as the storms come.
Will you laugh a little more with me?