One of my all time favorite movies was Patch Adams staring the late Robin Williams. I laughed so hard that I cried in parts of it. It also taught me a valuable lesson. As a doctor many times we are taught to be “professional” and up tight. We are encouraged to be stoic and businesslike. Much of what we have to do is serious and sort of heavy in nature. Also we tend to be academic in nature so that it makes the patient uptight and tense.
I remember, when I was still a student in optometry school, the dean’s wife chewed me up one side and down the other for using a slang word that meant the glasses were sitting on a face crooked, and not quite straight. I laughed and so did the patient but this dean’s wife was not amused in the least. It was frowned upon to be casual and too carefree. Well that just wasn’t and still isn’t who I am.
Laughter is very cathartic. It increases our endorphins. It makes us forget the difficulties we are facing. Laughter also makes real changes to our thoughts so much so that we actually heal faster. It’s been stated many times that people overcome many difficult health issues by having a positive attitude when overcoming heart conditions and cancers etc.
The Bible even says in Proverbs 17:22 ESV “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”. OOOH.. dried up bones.. now that’s not good at all.
Laughter helps you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Laughter is a natural diversion. Laughing has also been shown to induce changes in the body that linger for hours after a good belly laugh. When you laugh, no other thought comes to mind.
Cancer Treatment Centers states “According to some studies, laughter therapy may provide physical benefits, such as helping to:
- Enhance oxygen intake
- Stimulate the heart and lungs
- Relax muscles throughout the body
- Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
- Ease digestion/soothe stomach aches
- Relieve pain
- Balance blood pressure
- Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)
Laughter therapy may also help to:
- Improve overall attitude
- Reduce stress/tension
- Promote relaxation
- Improve sleep
- Enhance quality of life
- Strengthen social bonds and relationships
- Produce a general sense of well-being”
So It seems that laughter IS good medicine. I don’t want to live a life without laughter. It is integral to happiness and joy and what makes life pleasurable. It seems that it also makes life healthier and perhaps we live longer because of it as well.