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Laughter, the best medicine

Published December 03. 2011 09:01AM

On Thanksgiving, we sat around the table and played Pictionary. We had the best time. I laughed so hard and so much my stomach hurt. At one point I almost didn't make it to the bathroom in time. Sometimes I laughed until I cried.

A few weeks ago, we had dinner with friends and then watched a movie together. It was "The Money Pit" with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. I've seen that movie at least six or seven times. I laughed just as much and just as hard as the first time I saw it. It's my favorite funny movie. If you have never seen it, please do yourself a favor and rent it. You won't be sorry.

Laughter is considered a visual expression of happiness or an inward feeling of joy. It may come from hearing a joke or being tickled, or watching a sitcom on TV.

Let's see if it works.

Two snowmen are standing in a meadow. One snowman turns to the other and says, "Do you smell carrots?"

Children are known to laugh a great deal more than adults. An average baby laughs around 300 times a day. Most of that probably comes from the adults around them who make stupid faces and do anything to make a baby laugh.

An average adult laughs around 20 times a day, depending on a person's personality. Apparently adulthood is no laughing matter. I guess loading dirty underwear in the washing machine, digging ditches or dealing with the public on the job or going to the dentist for root canal aren't your typical funny "ha" moments. But they could be.

Q. How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper?

A. We don't know. It has never happened.

Laughter has scientific beneficial effects. For example, laughter has been shown to lead to reductions in stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. When laughing, the brain also releases endorphins that can relieve some physical pain. Laughter also boosts the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T-cells, leading to a stronger immune system. Maybe that's why we enjoy watching reruns of "The Golden Girls."

See if this one helps release a little stress.

Q: What did the blonde say when she looked into a box of Cheerios?

A: "Oh look! Donut seeds!

Sigmund Freud's theory was laughter releases tension and "psychic energy," that laughter is beneficial for one's health. This theory explains why laughter can be used as a coping mechanism when one is upset, angry or sad.

Research has shown that the health benefits of laughter are far-ranging. Studies so far have shown that laughter can help relieve pain, bring greater happiness, and even increase immunity. Thus the saying, "Laughter is the best medicine."

Q. How do you keep a Dallas Cowboy out of your yard?

A. Put up a goal post.

Feeling better yet?

OK. I got another one for you. Laughter yoga clubs. No kidding! Apparently, Dr. Madan Kataria, a Physician from Mumbai, India, launched the first Laughter Club at a park on March 13, 1995. Today, it has become a worldwide phenomenon with more than 6,000 Social Laughter Clubs in about 60 countries.


Laughter Yoga combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing (Pranayama). Laughter is simulated as a body exercise in a group, with eye contact and childlike playfulness, and soon it turns into real and contagious laughter. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits.

So tell me if this one caused fake or real laughter.

I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor's permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.

Some of laughter's positive aspects include physical release, an internal workout, a distraction and a different perspective.

Laughter connects us with others. I know I seek out those who make me laugh and smile. I'd much rather enjoy a chuckle or two instead of listening to someone drone on about ObamaCare.

A baby turtle was standing at the bottom of a large tree and with a deep sigh, started to climb. About an hour later, he reached a very high branch and walked along to the end. He turned and spread all four flippers and launched himself off the branch. On landing at the bottom in a pile of soft, dead leaves, he shook himself off, walked back to the bottom of the tree and with a sigh started to climb.

About an hour later, he again reached the very high branch, walked along, turned, spread his flippers and flung himself off the branch. Again, he landed on the bottom, shook himself off, went to the bottom of the tree, sighed and started climbing.

Watching these proceedings from the end of the branch were two little birds. Mommy bird turned to Daddy bird and said, "Don't you think it's time we told him he was adopted?"

See? Now wasn't that better than if I had talked about how Tropicana has been trying to kill me by putting arsenic in my orange juice?

Well, actually, that's kind of funny if you think about it.

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