Why laughter is the best medicine you can take?

A military doctor having a laugh with a sick child.

Animals cannot laugh.

The enjoyment of laughter is reserved exclusively for humans.

For centuries research has gone on to find out why people laugh, but it is still largely a mystery.

Do you enjoy a good laugh?

Is it beneficial to laugh?

There are different views about humor.

Some stress the negative side, viewing humor as “aggressive,” tending to belittle other people.

On the other hand, laughter has been called “a prerequisite to a well-rounded personality,” “wonder drug for depression.”

But why can it be regarded as one of the most important natural medicine?

Aid to a healthy mind and body

A father having fun with his children.

An article entitled “The Sense in Humor” points out that some psychologists and psychiatrists have begun to explore the possibilities of using humor therapeutically.

They are attempting to encourage their patients’ sense of the ridiculous as an antidote to emotional distress.

On the other hand, persons with no sense of humor often show symptoms of emotional disorders.

Dr. Margaret Prouty,
a retired pediatrician, made an interesting observation concerning children who developed ulcers due to stress:

Years of observation have convinced me that one of their chief personality defects is an almost total lack of a sense of humor. Life is indeed real and earnest, and they have no ability to laugh at themselves or at others.”

You probably know some persons who take themselves very seriously, walking about with a ‘chip on their shoulder,’ so to speak.

Are such people happy?

Do they contribute to the happiness of others?

The solution may be no more involved than learning to laugh at themselves.

Psychiatrist Smiley Blanton stated:

I’ve seldom been called on to help a person who had a sense of the ridiculous, and I’ve never had to treat anyone who could really laugh at himself.”

Can you see the humorous side of your life?

Yes, “a sound mind” goes hand in hand with a modest view of oneself.

You will more easily develop that view if you learn to laugh at yourself.

What about the effect of humor on physical health?

Dr. James J. Walsh, in his book Laughter and Health, explained that the up-and-down movement of the diaphragm in laughter affects internal organs in a manner similar to exercise.

Laughter gives a gentle massage to the heart, improving circulation. A like effect upon the liver and intestines aids digestion and elimination of wastes.

Dr. Walsh points out that persons with blood-pressure problems would do well to “keep laughing.”

Results of experiments revealed that people with blood pressure of 180 or above experienced—through laughter—a drop of 10 or more points; those with low blood pressure (below 120) showed a rise of 10 points or more. But there are times when laughter is out of place.

The magazine Science Digest observes:

Like a coin, humor appears to have two sides. . . . Sometimes wit is used either consciously or unconsciously as a weapon. There is a saying, ‘Laughter kills.’”

This is particularly true with regard to young children.

Never should a child be the victim of derisive “humor.”

Nor should children be allowed to use such a “weapon” on other youngsters.

This is a sign of insecurity and parents should be quick to correct whatever is wrong.

To avoid hurting another be sure you laugh with him, not at him.

Indeed, there is a time to laugh.

Hearty, relaxed laughter can benefit you mentally, physically and emotionally.

But be careful not to engage in laughter at the wrong time, or to use your sense of humor to hurt others.


Other humor’s benefits

Benefits of laughter.

Humor is helpful in coping with difficult situations

Laughter can play an important part in promoting peaceful family life.

Illustrating this is the experience of a father who became provoked at his young son for leaving a new bicycle out in the rain overnight.

“Put it out in the driveway and let me run over it,” the father said bitterly.

“We might as well finish it off.”

As his anger flared, the father grabbed the bicycle and wheeled it onto the driveway. 

Then the boy’s younger sister and mother made some remarks to provoke laughter in the angered father.

What happened?

The man explains:

After a moment I smiled. Then I laughed. The moment I laughed, I could sense the tension ebbing away. A feeling of relief took over. Sanity had returned. Everyone joined in the laughter.”

Reflecting on the benefits of humor in trying situations, this man stated:

More and more I am convinced that humor is a sixth sense, as important to our enjoyment of life—even to our survival—as any of the five physical senses. And if there is any place it comes in handy it is in the home. Ours, anyhow.”

Humor can brighten up even an apparently hopeless situation.

Does your occupation require you to persuade others of the value of some product, of the need to take a particular course of action, or of the reasonableness of certain arguments?

How can you convince your hearers to act upon what you say?

William J. McGuire, of Yale University’s Department of Psychology, writes concerning persuasion:

The use of humor in the message can enhance yielding; apparently it puts the recipient in a more pleasant, agreeable state.”

Concerning children a psychologist noted:

A sensitive parent can learn a great deal from observing when and why his child laughs just as we learn from observing in our clinical work. . . . Relaxed laughter is healthy, but distorted, artificial laughter can be a cover-up for troubled feelings.”

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