A human being’s ability to laugh is a valid indicator of his health as are all those other things that doctors normally check. Dr. William Fry, Jr, Stanford researcher has studied the beneficial effects of laughter for more than 30 years. He states: “When we laugh, muscles are activated. When we stop laughing, these muscles relax. Since muscle tension magnifies pain, many people with arthritis, rheumatism and other painful conditions benefit greatly from a healthy dose of laughter. Many headache sufferers feel the same relief”.
How can we get more laughter into our lives? Here’s what the experts have come up with:
1. Mix with people who laugh:
Nancy, a teacher in New York was painfully shy and had a hard time laughing. Then she married a circus enthusiast. She become interested in the clowns. One day she purchased a costume and asked a clown to paint her face. That afternoon changed her life. She learnt to laugh and enjoy life. She went on to teach clowning at a local college. To this day she makes a point of mixing with people who enjoy life and laughing – because their joy rubs off on all those around them.
2. Practice the art of laughing:
Annette Good heart, a psychotherapist, tells about a chronic worrier. One day Annette asked this woman to make out a “worry list”. It was a long one. “Now read off all your worries”, Good heart told her, “but at the end of each say: Tee Hee”. The patient scowled but then did as she was told, surprising herself when she couldn’t hold back a giggle. Then seeing the silliness of it all she let out a hearty laughter first in a long time.
Faking laughter triggers the diaphragm. It’s like putting a key in a car ignition. The engine catches and turns over. The same thing happens with a fake laugh. The diaphragm interprets this as a real one, and before you realise it, a genuine laugh follows.
3. Keep a laughter file. Clip cartoons and jokes:
Also keep a pad for jotting down humour you find in everyday life. Patty Wooten a nurse recounts that a troublesome patient buzzed for the umpteenth time. “What’s wrong?” the nurse asked, trying to be cheerful. “It’s my dinner”, snarled the patient. “This is a bad potato”. The nurse picked up the potato in one hand and spanked it soundly with the other. “Bad potato!” She reprimanded. “Bad! Bad! Bad! “ The patient roared with laughter – and Wooten did too.
4. Make time for laughter:
Jane Nelson, a marriage counsellor found herself so squeezed for time that she was losing her sense of humour. So she started off putting funny notes and cartoons in her kids’ school lunches, on mirrors, and on the refrigerator door. Instead of buying birthday cards, she wrote comic poems. The rest of family picked this up. One morning when she got up grouchy, her son came into the kitchen wearing a big clown’s nose. This changed her whole outlook.
Laughter has to be nurtured. Will Rogers summed it up best: “We are there just for a spell, so get a few laughs!”.