Laugh and be Well

Laughter is the best medicine

I am beginning by asking you to laugh…. or at any rate to go through the movements  and sounds of a hearty laugh before you read any further. Note the effect that this stimulated laughter has on your mind and body. Does it give you a sense of well – being? Take  particular notice of the relaxing effect of the stomach and your face, and especially on the little muscles round the eyes. It may also have made the set of your lips less grim.

Now that we have done what we can to prepare ourselves for consideration of this strange phenomenon we call laughter, we ask ourselves: why do we contort our faces and make this strange noise when we are amused? And what good is it? Above all, how can we make use of it?


Sudden Glory...

What is laughter?  The English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes said: “Sudden glory is the passion which maketh those grimaces called laughter”. As Rabelais says: “Laughter is the quality  peculiar to man. Other animals can hunt, store food, communicate with each other, build  dwellings, make love, show affection to mate and offspring, fight to defend their home… but only man can laugh!”

Sign Of Sanity...

When a man laughs he shows that he has a sense of proportion: what makes us laugh is the perception of some incongruity, of something  misproportioned  or grotesque. It is a sign of our sanity, and also of our solidarity. Laughter needs too be shared. It takes at least two to enjoy a joke:  the teller  and the audience.

We must develop the ability to laugh. An important reason for this is that laughter is health – giving. As Mathew Green says: “Laugh and be well!” Laughter makes us ‘feel good’ and this feeling is in itself a great part of good health. Above all, laughter       relaxes: Many of us are willing to go to great lengths, even do tedious exercises, in order to attain this state of relaxation, that a moment of our “sudden glory” can give us. Laughter lifts from the mind its burdens.

Worry’s Antidote…

Laughter is a wonderful breaker of social ice. Speakers often begin a speech with a joke because it ensures attention and unites  separate individuals present into a single  audience. Strangers can be brought together by a joke. Introductions become superfluous. They begin to talk to each other; they are friends. Laughter, like tears, comes easily to a small child. As he grows older, he learns to control his impulses. Self – control is a necessary thing  if we are to live in a civilised society, but  man often carries  self – control to excess. The ‘stiff upper lip’ represses expressions of weakness, but at the same time effectively blocks the free expression of joy. Just try to laugh, keeping your lips compressed.

See The Funny Side...

In such a condition we are ready to react  naturally and pleasurably to the stimulus of the ridiculous.  Let us look for, and welcome such moments. The French epigrammatist, Chamfort, points out: “The most wasted of all days is that on which one has not laughed”.

I have deliberately quoted a number of interesting sayings about laughter, from great writers, and I would suggest it may help you to copy out any of these that appeal to you, and carry it for reference in your wallet or handbag. They may stand you in good stead on a dreary day.

We started this article with an “artificial” laugh. May I suggest that we start each day with one, as soon as we wake up.


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