One of my favorite jokes is about a pirate and a parrot. A woman, in the market for a parrot, finds one for sale. She purchases the bird and over the next few days discovers that its former owner was a pirate, as witnessed by the parrot’s coarse language. The woman, who frequently has children around, warns the bird that it must not use such language, ever. And she threatens the parrot, “If you curse again, I’ll put you in the freezer for one minute!” Well, as parrots are wont to do, it cursed again, pushing its new owner over the edge. “That’s it!” she declares and places the parrot in the freezer. A minute passes by and she removes the bird, asking if it has any questions. “Just one,” the parrot says. “What did the turkey do?”
For decades Reader’s Digest has run a column in their publication titled, Laughter, the Best Medicine. I loved and still love reading the stories and jokes they publish. The New Yorker has become famous for the cartoons, both inside the magazine and on the cover that talented artists produce for it. And Charles Schulz (Peanuts), Gary Larson (The Far Side), Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), and so many others have created cartoon characters that we all have enjoyed over the years.
But what is it about laughter that makes it the best medicine? Here are a few thoughts:
Sure, it’s fun to share a good laugh. But did you know it could actually improve your health? It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.
And from the Mayo Clinic:
Whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke . . . A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally; it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
- Stimulate many organs.
- Activate and relieve your stress response.
- Soothe tension.
- Improve your immune system.
- Relieve pain.
- Increase personal satisfaction.
- Improve your mood.
www.mentalfloss.com lists 10 different ways that laughter can benefit our lives. In addition, they refer to scientific journal articles that support the following benefits:
- Laughter is a sign of goodwill toward others.
- It may reduce your blood pressure.
- Laughter can reduce anxiety and other negative emotions.
- Laughter as an immune booster.
- Laughter may act as a natural antidepressant.
- You breathe better after laughing.
- Laughter is good for your cardiovascular system.
- Laughter calms stress hormones.
- Social laughter can relieve pain.
- Laughing burns calories.
So, if you are having a bad day, struggling with some challenge, or just need to blow of some steam, try laughter. It’s free and it’s fun. Here’s a start:
A Hispanic magician says to her audience, “For my last trick I will disappear without a trace! Uno! Dos!”