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Laugh Till It Doesn't Hurt! by June
We all know how good a deep rolling belly laugh feels. How much fun it is to
play and joke with friends. A good comedy show can be a tonic after a hard day
at the office. It's been said that laughter is good for the soul. There's now
proof that it is good for the body, mind and emotions too.
A Natural Stress Reliever
Laughter research has shown that humor can help people keep their bodies
strong and disease resistant. Humor is equally helpful to our mental health and
the way we deal with stress and worry. A good laugh exercises many muscles of
the body and causes the brain to secrete endorphins. These "feel-good" brain
chemicals raise both our mood and our coping abilities. Things don't look so bad
when viewed through the eyes of humor.
Humor therapist, Patty Wooten explains, "Humor can be an empowerment tool.
Humor gives us a different perspective on our problems and, with an attitude of
detachment, we feel a sense of self-protection and control in our
environment."(1) Humor helps us cope with stressful situations in a more
relaxed, detached way. We feel more in control.
The Great Enabler
Humor helps us feel in control at work and in social situations. Therapist
Cathy Fenwick encourages people to use humor in the workplace. Humor boosts
morale, eases communication gaps, and helps squelch burnout. It helps us be more
flexible, adaptable and open to change. A good laugh relieves boredom and boosts
creativity. Spontaneity and confidence are more freely expressed. She writes,
"Laughing with people is compassionate, but laughing at them is rude, immoral
and unethical. Healthy humour is based on caring and empathy, builds confidence,
brings people closer together and is mutually supportive."(2) Psychologists such
as Carl Rogers(3) and Abraham Maslow(4) wrote that a sense of humor is a key
ingredient in self-actualized, full functioning people. Being able to laugh
helps us gain a freer perspective of things and face our problems with renewed
sense of humor helps us cope with our world in a more philosophical way. Being
able to laugh in the face of challenge and strife is a priceless skill to
develop. Nurture your ability to share humor, to laugh from your belly, to face
the world with a smile. It can set the stage for productivity, satisfaction, a
sense of belonging and relief from cares and burdens. Make it a daily exercise.
You'll be glad you did!
1. Wooten, P. (1996). Humor: An antidote for stress. Holistic Nursing
Practice. Vol. 10, No. 2, pages 49-55. Online version available at: http://www.jesthealth.com/artantistress.html
2. Fenwick, C. Healing with Humor: Making Laughter Work for You.
University of Saskatchewan.
3. Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person. Boston: Houghton
4. Maslow, A. (1961). Toward a psychology of being. Princeton: Van
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