With More Laughter, There's More Healing

by Michael Corthell

There is a real power in laughter. No matter how you are feeling inside, a good belly laugh will change your mood. Isn't that true? You simply can't feel bad when you are smiling and laughing. Can you stay angry?  I can’t.

''We need more kindness, more compassion,
more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.''

—Ellen DeGeneres

Have a philosophy to love who and what you are and what you do, as well as laugh at yourself and at life in general. And why not? You're here for a short stay, enjoy this wonderful journey. I'm not saying, not to take life seriously, but you have to accept your life on life's terms—with the right attitude. So laugh and enjoy yourself, it will not only make life more fun, it could even lengthen it.
So, what do a positive mindset and good humor have to do with healing?

Many studies have shown that laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies this improves your resistance to disease.

Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins in your brain, the body's natural morphine, they make us 'feel good' by promoting an overall sense of well-being and can even relieve pain.
''A day without laughter is a day wasted.''
—Charlie Chaplin

Norman Cousins

In Norman Cousins: A Laughter/Pain Case Study, the author and editor is described as only having only a few months to live after contracting a degenerative illness brought on by stress. He disagreed with his doctor and reasoned that if stress had somehow contributed to his illness then positive emotions should help him feel better.

With his doctors' consent, he checked himself out of the hospital and into a hotel across the street and began taking extremely high doses of vitamin C while exposing himself to a continuous stream of humorous films and similar 'laughing matter'. He later claimed that 10 minutes of belly busting' laughter would give him two hours of pain-free sleep, when nothing else, not even morphine could help him.

His observations about the quality of life:
  • Realize that each human being has a built-in capacity for recuperation and repair.
  • Recognize that the quality of life is all-important.
  • Assume responsibility for the quality of your own life.
  • Nurture the regenerative and restorative forces within you.
  • Utilize laughter to create a mood in which the other positive emotions can be put to work for yourself and those around you.
  • Develop confidence and ability to feel love, hope and faith, and acquire a strong will to live.
Norman Cousins in his own words:

Most of us will not face a medical situation as Mr. Cousins did, but our lives can also be filled with fear and pain. Pain that is mostly brought on by our negative thinking.

Changing that negative mindset to one of positive gratitude will lead to unbelievable joy and happiness. Cheerfulness can and will make all the difference in your life.

Laugh and enjoy life!

There is now much support within the medical community regarding the importance of laughter and its therapeutic value in the treatment of cancer and other diseases. And Norman Cousins is a least partly responsible for this. Today, more and more people are turning to humor for therapy and healing.

According to scientific studies, laughter therapy will provide some (or all) of these physical benefits by helping to:

  • Boost the immune system
  • Enhance oxygen intake
  • Stimulate the heart and lungs
  • Relax muscles through the body
  • Trigger the release of endorphins
  • Ease digestion
  • Relieve pain
  • Balance blood pressure
  • Improve mental functions
In Norman Cousins' case, his condition steadily improved, and he slowly regained the use of his limbs. Within six months he was back on his feet, and within two years he was able to return to his full-time job at the Saturday Review. His story baffled the scientific community and inspired a number of research projects.

Go here to read the core of his message in the transcription of a radio interview he gave in 1983 on the impact of positive emotions on over-all health.

His 1979 book An Anatomy Of An Illness is a now a classic.

Here is the movie version.