The fact is that laughter is powerful medicine. In Norman Cousins 1970s bookAnatomy of an Illness, he found that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter had similar effects to anesthesia, providing at least two hours of pain relief. That’s because laughter aids the pituitary gland in releasing its own pain-suppressing opiates. Surprisingly, laughter also offers long-term health benefits.
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
- Exercises the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles
- Reduces certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline
- Increases the response of tumor and disease-killing cells like Gamma-interferon and T-cells
- Boosts the immune system and defend against respiratory infections – even reducing the frequency of colds – by immunoglobulin in saliva
- Increases memory and learning; in a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, humor during instruction led to increased test scores
- Improves alertness, creativity, and memory
Laughter can inspire us to see things in a fresh new way. According to research, it has the ability to “literally change our belief where we can imagine previously unimagined possibilities.” Yet adults average only 18 laughs per day while children laugh 400 to 500 times per day according to Robert Holden, founder of Britain's first Laughter Clinic.
Have you laughed today? “If not, here are a few of my favorite go-to's, all available on NetFlix and YouTube.