Norman Cousins was hospitalized with a rare, crippling form of arthritis. When he was diagnosed as incurable, Cousins checked out of the hospital. Aware of the harmful effects that negative emotions can have on the body, Cousins reasoned the reverse was true.
So he borrowed a movie projector and prescribed his own treatment, consisting of Marx Brothers films and old “Candid Camera” reruns. It didn’t take long for him to discover that 10 minutes of laughter provided two hours of pain free sleep. Amazingly, his debilitating disease was eventually reversed.
After the account of his victory appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, Cousins received more than 3,000 letters from appreciative physicians throughout the world.
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, laughter has both short term and long term benefits:
Stimulates many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
Activates and relieves your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
Soothes tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
Relieves pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
Increases personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
Improves your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
Remember: A cheerful heart is good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick. (Proverbs 17:22 TLB)