LAUGHING MATTERS | LAUGH FOR THE HEALTH OF IT!
LEARN LAUGHTER THERAPY FOR A HEALTHIER, HAPPIER LIFE
"A merry heart doeth good like medicine." -- The Bible, the Book of Proverbs.
"We are just about as happy as we make up our mind to be." -- Abraham Lincoln
How often do you laugh a good strong belly laugh? How about a chuckle? In this busy, stress-filled life, we can all learn how to shift from Children laugh hundreds of times a day. Adults average fewer than fifteen. If you are "Laughter Challenged," you can learn and practice laughter therapy each day. The health benefits will be tremendous! This simple practice will bring greater joy and health into your life. Modern science, traditional wisdom, and even the Bible all advise us to laugh more each day. Our United States Constitution states that we have the right to not only life and liberty but also, "the pursuit of happiness." Imagine that! Happiness is our right. So claim it. Practice laughter as part of a healthy daily practice. As comic Legend, Syd Caeser said, "Laughter is the great healer of everything."
I present Laughter Therapy lectures at the Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise, put on annually by A Taste of Health. There, I learned how much people love to laugh and I created the audio entitled, "Laugh for the Health of It!" Half of the audio relays proven scientific health information, along with historical and inspirational wisdom, supporting the profound healing benefits of laughter. The second half of the audio is my voice laughing. People hear me laugh and, to their surprise, they begin laughing in spite of themselves. It’s contagious! I am invited to teach Laughter Therapy throughout the United States and Europe, at conferences and universities.
Laugh for the health of it! Laughter is scientifically proven to stimulate our circulation as it releases endorphins in our brains, increasing well-being and pleasure. Think of all the people who turn to sugar, chocolate, alcohol, and drugs for the same pleasure release. Laughing also increases your concentration skills and memory. Laughter acts like an internal massage for your organs and lymph system. I call my belly laughs “ internal jogging,” as they increase oxygen intake and lower blood pressure and stress. More laughter translates into less depression and anger. Laughter is proven to increase your T-cells, immunity, and longevity. Unlike other forms of pleasure, laughter is cost free, calorie free, and doesn’t make you pregnant! You simply live longer if you are happy. Truly, he/she who laughs, lasts.
We cannot be angry and laugh at the same moment. It is physically impossible. Psychiatrist Dr. William Fry of Stanford University documents the physiological benefits of laughter. He writes that fear and rage contribute to heart attacks and tells how humor heals the heart. He says, “ Humor acts to relieve fear…and rage is impossible when mirth prevails.” Anger manifests as tightness and laughter loosens us up and increases our optimism. In fact, the word “humor” comes from Latin meaning “to flow freely.” Take conscious laugh breaks each day. Don’t wait for something funny to come your way, creating humor or merely laughing is highly beneficial and most of all…fun!
Over thirty years ago, Norman Cousins, renowned editor and author, discovered that laughter can truly heal. Suffering from a debilitating disease, Cousins took charge and armed with vitamins and comedy videos, began a regime of intensive laughter. He asked nurses to read funny books to him. He watched old Marx Brothers movies and hilarious shows. As he writes in Anatomy of and Illness, ten minutes of laughter gave him two hours of pain-free sleep and helped lead him to full recovery.
Did you hear the one about the doctor who wears big red noses and clown shoes as he makes his rounds in his hospital? Dr. Patch Adams is a living and breathing true hero in the laughter as medicine field who practices in the Silly Hospital of Holistic Medicine and Hilarity. My wife, Jane, and I were privileged to meet Dr. Adams a decade ago. Watch the movie about him, “Patch Adams,” starring Robin Williams. Robin has said that the real life Patch Adams is even more wild and crazy that he is! How about presenting your doctor with a red clown nose and asking him to wear it?
In ancient Greece, Socrates said, “You can’t heal the body without the soul.” Laugh well and long daily, especially if you are ill. The body and mind are certainly connected. Practice conscious laughter, especially when life seems the most bleak! Courageous people have looked for humor in the midst of horrific circumstances. As a comedian said, “Laughter is like changing diapers. It doesn’t change things permanently, but it makes things better for a while.” Practice humor and laughter therapy when times are tough or the stress is rising so you feel like you’re in a pressure cooker. Let off a little or a lot of steam with a belly laugh. As we have learned, laughter reduces pain and stress. In India, people join Laughter Clubs and gather in parks outdoors to laugh together. Create a Laughter Club of your own in your home, workplace, or church.
This might sound funny…but the foods we eat can help us or hinder us from laughing. All grains and fresh vegetables and fruits help our body’s energies to flow, allowing more internal relaxation, pleasure, and laughter. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, The heart is known traditionally to be the center of joy and laughter. The best grain to heal the heart is corn in all its forms, from fresh corn on the cob to corn grits. Foods that inhibit laughter and may also increase irritability, criticism, and anger towards others. These are foods that congest the liver and gall bladder such as heavy, rich foods, saturated fats, and over-cooked, over-salted, oily foods. A plant-based, high complex carbohydrate diet promotes greater energy flow, inner peace, will, and tranquility, as it creates optimum functioning of the body and mind. Beyond a great diet are other techniques for bringing laughter into your life.
Rent funny movies that tickle your unique funny bone. Comedy is purely relative. (Most of our relatives are pretty funny.) Each of us appreciates a specific comedy style. Peruse the Comedy sections of the video store. Show your kids a “History of Comedy Film Festival” from the Keystone Cops, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Little Rascals, through the decades of comedy superstars, up to today’s hilarious male and female comedians. Buy a joke book or look on the Internet for jokes. Teach your child how to tell a good joke and create family joke times at mealtimes or in the car. (We suggest that you set rules about the content to keep the jokes positive and PG rated. Many jokes are cruel and negative-definitely not healing.) Cut out funny cartoons from the comics and post them on the refrigerator or slip one into your child’s or mate’s lunch box. I like to give my wife a funny drawing and note each morning next to her teacup.
During coffee breaks, rather than stuffing yourself with caffeine and sugar, take “Joke Breaks” at work when you could join in a “Staff Laugh” around the water cooler. Put a funny saying on your screen saver. Let a joke book be part of your family’s “Mirth Aid Kit.” In this kit put funny hats, big red noses, Groucho Marx glasses, mustaches, and colorful, wild clothes. Wear them while you take a walk or mow the grass to delight your neighbors. If you even give your friends a smile, it is giving them a momentary boost in immunity. And that is no joke!
What better way to create a more peaceful world than to laugh together? People in our lives can often be made friends with a humorous remark and warm laugh. A centuries old Japanese laughing ritual called, “Waraiko” includes three hearty laughs: Once in Praise: In gratitude for the passing year. Once in Promise: In prayer for the coming year. The third is Once in Purpose: In clarity as a laugh to clear the mind and heart. So, HA, HA, HA! Wishing you and your family daily laughter for greater health, fun, and well being. See you in the Funny Papers!
Lino Stanchich is a Licensed Nutritionist and Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist. He is a multi-lingual international lecturer and a Macrobiotic Counselor and Educator with over 40 years experience. Mr. Stanchich is author of Power Eating Program: You Are How You Eat, Macrobiotic Healing Secrets, The Natural Bladder Control Program, Energize Yourself Self-Massage Video as well as LAUGH for the Health of It! and Healing Mealtime Music audios. Lino lives and laughs with his wife, Jane, in Asheville, North Carolina where they conduct holistic classes, workshops, and seminars.