Is Laughter a Nutrient?
By Sister Ann Cecile Gaume
Many researchers would say YES! It nourishes us in BODY, MIND, and SOUL. There are over a hundred scientific studies being done on the multiple benefits of laughter. Dr. William Fry, of Stanford University, one of the leading experts in the study of laughter, theorizes that it is biochemically impossible to get sick or to get sicker when we are laughing.
“In every real person •• a child is hidden who wants to laugh and play.”
Among other things Fry says: “Laughter makes your heart beat faster; it increases your blood flow; cleanses your eyes with tears; it relaxes your muscles and helps your immune system boost the activity of cancer fighting cells.” REASON ENOUGH TO LAUGH AND LAUGH OFTEN!
THE PHYSICAL BODY
• Laughter improves breathing by helping clear mucus from the lungs, allowing them to expand and take in more oxygen.
• Laughter reduces blood pressure by improving circulation and speeding delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues throughout the body.
• It helps fight infections by increasing delivery of oxygen, and thus production of white blood cells, which boosts immunity and helps fight colds and flu.
• It heightens mental functions by increasing delivery of oxygen, and thus production of a hormone that improves alertness and memory.
• Laughter relieves pain by increasing delivery of oxygen, and thus the level of endorphins, pain-killing chemicals produced by the brain.
Doctor Hugh Riordan at The Center says that when we laugh we breathe deeper. Shallow breathing can result in the air sacks in the lungs sticking together and setting up a good home for the growth of bacteria
When was the last time you had a good “belly laugh”? Try taking a deep breath and exhale fully with a hearty HA HA HA HA HA.
One lady shared with me that she didn’t really want to attend my humor presentation because her arthritis was so painful. But she stayed and laughed so much that the pain was gone! When we chuckle, smile, laugh, and giggle the brain and pituitary produce a natural pain killing hormone that resembles morphine and other opiate substances. We have our own built-in morphine system!
Mother Theresa of Calcutta once said: “I will never understand all the good a simple smile can do.” And now we know, Scientifically proven, the good a smile can do. Mother Theresa also said:
“I have the feeling that we are in such a hurry that we do not even have time to look at one another and to SMILE.”
Humor is like food. We can go without food for several weeks and then we become pale and emaciated and even ill. So it is without laughter. When we are stressed out, tense, and in pain, we hurt ourselves and we hurt other people.
Laughter has a scientifically demonstrable exercise-impact on many body systems. Muscles are activated, heart rate is increased, respiration is amplified with increase in oxygen exchange…all similar to the desirable effects of athletic exercise. Sustained hilarity is among the more agreeable forms of aerobics. The muscles of the abdomen, neck, and shoulders rapidly tighten and relax; heart rate and blood pressure increase; inhalation and exhalation become spasmodic and deeper.
Erma Bombeck once wrote: “When humor goes, there goes civilization.”
When you laugh, you help yourself. Here is The Center we learn to help ourselves.
Josh Billings’ notion is: “There ain’t much fun in medicine; but there’s a heck of a lot of medicine in fun.”
THE MENTAL/EMOTIONAL BODY – AND THE SPIRITUAL BODY
The great writer Nietzsche said: “In every real person…a child is hidden who wants to laugh and play. Open yourself to your own joy..open up that wonderful, delightful aspect of yourself.” Play fuels the brain.
Using opportunities to share God’s gift of joy and laughter can literally transform painful situations into endurable ones and sometimes even joyful ones. We share colds and flu..why not share our joy and smiles.
The adage, “Laughter is one of the best medicines,” can trace its history as far back as the Bible. In the book of Proverbs: “A merry heart works like a medicine: a downcast spirit dries up the bones.” There are over 800 references to joy and laughter in the Bible. This speaks of this tremendous gift of HUMOR. The Bible calls us to be joyful people: “Let all the earth cry out with joy!”
The “healing power” of laughter is nothing new. The Greeks prescribed a visit to the Home of Comedians as part of their healing process. Some cultures have had jesters go along with the funeral procession to incite laughter that keeps the human heart from breaking. Some of our American Indians had clown doctors perform antics to cure the sick.
History shows that it was Henri de Mondeville, a 13th century surgeon who told jokes to patients emerging from operations. Then in the 16th century, English educator, Richard Mulcaster advised that laughter was the right medicine for head colds and melancholy. Perhaps someday Bill Cosby will be prescribed for one condition, Robin Williams for another.
Humor is an effective (and fun) way to reach out and touch someone, to boost morale, to communicate serious messages with a light touch. Who said: “Love makes the world go round; laughter keeps us from getting dizzy.”?
One of the highest ranking qualities most desired in a person is a good sense of humor. Who are the people you most like to be around … certainly not those with the proverbial “constipated look,” or those who only play the game of “ain’t it awful.”
When the normal burdens and difficulties of life become frustrating, a sense of humor can be a ready tool for coping. If you can laugh about it, you can handle it. And sometimes the laughter doesn’t come till after the distressing event Remember the old saying: “Someday we’ll look back on this and laugh.”
We nourish the MIND and the PHYSICAL BODY as well as the SOUL with love and laughter. Soul is a happy entity. We actually experience love everytime we smile.
Humor is not a trick. Humor is not just telling jokes. Humor is a presence in our world. It’s like a grace and it shines on everyone. We all want more love, joy, laughter, and peace in our lives. Mother Theresa’s words might be taken to heart when she said: “Peace begins with a smile … smile a little bit more, smile a little bit more everyday.”
L Let Go … of the past miseries and losses
A Attitude … have a positive attitude
U You … only you can change your circumstances and life
G Go Do It…don’t be a couch potato, get motivated and grow
H Humor Eyes & Humor Ears .. .look and listen for humor that can improve your circumstances and life