Norman Cousins is often described as the man who laughed himself back to health. According to his autobiography, Norman Cousins - a prominent political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate - was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful spine condition. He put himself on large doses of vitamin C and humor - which included watching a lot of Marks Brothers' movies.
He says, "I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep. When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval."
Photo of Norman Cousins courtesy of NASA photo collection.
We all know how good it feels to laugh. Have you ever laughed “'til it hurts?” Well, perhaps that’s a sign that those laughing muscles are not used often enough. Whenever possible and appropriate, laugh. Don't laugh at the expense of someone else’s feelings. A healthy laugh requires a healthy attitude. A hearty laugh should embrace those around you, not alienate them.
I love to laugh. That's me (in the photo above) laughing. Whenever I'm feeling down, I just start smiling. There is no way you can feel bad, sad or depressed if you force yourself to smile. Try it! Yeah, right now. (Something I learned from Tony Robbins.) Doesn’t that feel great?
Drs. Gael Crystal & Patrick Flanagan authors of the article entitled “Laughter - Still the Best Medicine” says that laughter, “is a form of internal jogging that exercises the body and stimulates the release of beneficial brain neurotransmitters and hormones. Positive outlook and laughter is actually good for our health!”
They go on to say, "Adults laugh approximately 15 times per day,while children laugh about 400 times a day! When we grew up, somehow we lost a few hundred laughs a day.
By learning to smile and laugh again, more easily and often, we could have a profound and positive effect on our health and well being.
The new science of psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how our state of mind affects our health. More than ever, scientific evidence suggests that laughter really is one of the best medicines."
“In the maintenance of health and the cure of disease cheerfulness is a most important factor,” says a doctor A. J. Sanderson.
It brightens the eye, brings an elasticity to the step, and promotes all the inner forces by which life is sustained. The blood circulates more freely, the oxygen comes to his home in the tissues, health is promoted, and disease is banished.
(Excerpt from Every Man a King by Orison Swett Marden - copyright 1906)
"The old saying that 'laughter is the best medicine,' definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," says Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day."
"So, how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one -- but it will take a long, long time, and the light bulb has got to really want to change."