If you’ve met me, you know that I like to have fun. “Dad jokes” are common in the office and I love to entertain my somewhat captive audiences. Even though my jokes are funnier when people are on laughing gas, I always appreciate the courtesy laughs, the sighs and even the somewhat frequent groans from the cheesy punch lines. My poor assistants are compelled to hear the same jokes multiple times a day. Sometimes they’ll even beat me to the end. Fun is absolutely one of our core values, and that means if you’re the kind of patient that just doesn’t like to have fun, we may not be the right office for you. Perhaps my favorite joke from my predecessor was, “Two cannibals were eating a clown, one turns to the other and asks, does this taste funny to you?” It’s a little dark, but we just rolled when we heard it.
According to the website Canned Laughter at petecann.com, he recommends that we laugh on a daily basis, and that it even has health benefits. He mentions that there are numerous ways laughing can help our health, and I’d like to focus on several.
Laughter Boosts Your Immune System
Laughter actually boosts the immune system, increasing the number of antibody-producing T cells in your body. These T cells help us to fight infection so we’re less likely to come down with coughs and colds. Laughter also lowers the levels of at least four hormones that are associated with stress. So, after a good giggle you should feel far less tense and anxious and a lot more positive.
A good laugh has been found to reduce pain in the body. Not only does a laugh distract you from your aches, but it also releases feel good endorphins into your system that are more powerful than the same amount of morphine. This idea of healing through laughter has got a lot of attention recently as people become aware of our bodies reaction to laughter.
Just 15 minutes of laughter can increase pain tolerance by around 10 percent as a result of endorphins being released. These endorphins cause something akin to a natural “high,” leading to pleasant feelings of calm, as well as temporary pain-relief.
Laughter has long been known to help people who are suffering from either SAD or full-blown depression. Laughing reduces tension and stress, and lowers anxiety and irritation, which are all major factors that contribute to the blues. Laughter therapy has been shown to reduce depression in patients by inducing feelings of well-being and positivity.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “you can’t believe everything you read online” (just kidding he never said that…and you shouldn’t believe everything online!). I don’t know how scientifically proven these ideas are, or where the studies that tested this were conducted. I worry that if they were conducted in Great Britain vs the United States, they may have different outcomes. We have very different forms of comedy, you know. May we all find some laughter and some healing in our lives.