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Dr. Rick's Health Tip of the Month

June 2000

We Need to Laugh More!

Smile thought and picture

By Rick Allen, DC, and various internet sources

"Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde

We are a serious nation with serious people who have serious health problems, many of which are related to stress. Laughter relieves stress. Through laughter we cope with our fear and anger, the two emotions that result in stress.

Laughter lifts us up. Life becomes worth living. We experience that vanishing state of being called relaxation. We stress less and enjoy other people more. We become fully present in the moment.

As Groucho Marx put it,
"A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast."

Why laugh? How will it help you?

  • It relieves anxiety. One cannot laugh and be afraid simultaneously. It's physically impossible. Laughter also shrinks the source and size of our fears.

  • It decreases isolation. Laughter allows us to bond with other people and ease our loneliness.

  • It reduces aggression and conflict. People laughing are unable to hold each other at sword point. Some how there is no longer a point, only acceptable differences.

  • It improves our physical well-being. We develop a stronger immune system, reduce levels of stress hormones, create a healthier heart and circulatory system, relax muscles, and feel less pain.

  • Laughter also provides an excellent source of cardiac exercise - especially important for senior citizens or non-ambulatory patients - and triggers a specific breathing pattern that offers significant respiratory benefits.

  • It's contagious. Laughter creates laughter. Allowing laughter to swell into a movement across the land would reduce our growing anger and violence.

  • It improves our mental health. We have less stress, reduced anger and anxiety, increased joy, a more positive, optimistic mood, and a stronger sense of control.

  • It allows us to be creative and solve problems better. Morale and job satisfaction improve. We can work harder but more comfortably. Productivity increases.

  • It's universal. Everybody can laugh. Human beings are born with the gift of laughter. A sense of humor is not necessary to laugh.

  • Above all else, it's fun. It gives us back our playfulness, a characteristic of all mankind.

  • Laughter is a natural, physical process that releases pain, physically and emotionally. It is part of the body's biological drug store. Introduce more laughter in your life and revel in the opportunity to need fewer or no drugs at all to revel in the experience of your everyday life.

What's significant about the laughter was not just the fact that it provides internal exercise for a person flat on his or her back - a form of jogging for the innards - but that it creates a mood in which the other positive emotions can be put to work, too. -- Norman Cousins

Norman Cousins, the author of Anatomy of an Illness, took personal responsibility for his treatment regimen upon being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative and potentially fatal connective tissue disease. He formed a partnership between his physicians and himself to beat the odds. By enhancing and mobilizing his body's own natural healing resources, he proved what powerful weapons and augmentative therapy positive emotions and the physical exercise of vigorous laughter can be against stress and disease. His choice of active inclusion of vigorous laughter sessions in his therapy demonstrated the mind-body connection at work to help overcome illness.

Health Tip Joke

Q: Where do you find a turtle with no legs?

A: Just where you left it!

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