National Humor Month was founded in 1976 by Larry Wilde, an internationally known humorist and author. Larry is also the founder and director of the Carmel Institute of Humor, located in beautiful Carmel, California. The mission of the institute is to “heighten public awareness about the necessity of laughter as a tool for successful living.” Mr. Wilde notes “the act of laughing allows the body and mind to relax, to become more receptive to positive energy, to be refreshed!”
With negativity being broadcast in the news every day, one might think that there is nothing to laugh about. But in truth, we can observe good and wonderful things around us everywhere – things that cause us to feel lighter and more joyful. It is important to be aware of the lens through which you are viewing “reality.” Media organizations know that bad news sells – but it also taints our view of the world. Observe children at play. Oblivious to anything “bad” going on in the world, they fully immerse themselves in the act of play, experiencing joy and laughing freely. When was the last time you had a good belly-laugh? (I’ll bet it wasn’t while you were watching the news.)
Laughter is cathartic and therapeutic, and when shared, can form bonds and increase intimacy between people. Laughter triggers positive health changes, such as:
It lowers blood pressure, because the deep breathing sends oxygen-rich blood and nutrients throughout the body
It strengthens the immune system by increasing our natural “killer” cells (these destroy tumor cells and invaders of our bodies such as viruses), gamma interferon (a disease-fighting protein), T-cells (the “sentries” of our immune system), and B-cells (these produce disease fighting antibodies)
It triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals that promote an overall sense of well- being and can even temporarily relieve pain
It protects the heart, improving the function of blood vessels and increasing blood flow
It gives the body a great workout by exercising the diaphragm, abdominal, respiratory, facial, let and back muscles, even burning as many calories as a few minutes on the rowing machine or exercise cycle!
It improves brain function (better blood flow, more oxygen) which enhances learning, reduces stress and improves retention of information
(Taken from HealthNotes by Marla Lichtsinn, RN, MPA, FCN)
With all of those benefits, it seems important to find ways to bring more laughter into our lives. Try spending time with others who laugh easily. Watch comedies or skits that make you laugh. Try Laughter Yoga. Find whatever method you can to access that joyful, childlike part of yourself that doesn’t take itself or life so seriously.
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