I love to laugh.
I love to laugh, and I especially like to laugh at myself.
My favorite song from the movie Mary Poppins is not Supercalifragilisticexpialidoc
I love to laugh
Loud and long and clear
I love to laugh
It’s getting worse ev’ry year
If you knew me, you’d probably say “it shouldn’t be hard to laugh at yourself. You are a spring garden shooting up more and more stalks and twigs of your many foibles, those shoots quickly ripening into absolute targets for laughter – a veritable semi-mobile fertile vegetable garden of laughable content.”
I’m good with that, as long as we laugh together. I’m fortunate that I am in private practice and I can laugh if I want to. If you don’t want to laugh, pick another doctor. Be my guest and have a nice day.
I had heard a story decades ago (almost all my stories now start with “a long time ago”) about a man who treated his disease with Marx Brothers movies. That probably was a reference to Norman Cousins, who wrote a New England Journal article and then a book on the healing power of laughter and of self. The book you can get. The New England Journal paper you have to know someone to get. He laughed, and he did get better. Ten minutes of “genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect” that gave him two hours of pain-free sleep.
The Mayo Clinic recognizes the health benefits of laughter. They cite research on the positive effects of laughter. Stress reduction is a biggie. But also – who knew? – it helps your immune system. Stress negatively impacts your immune system. Laughter probably triggers release of neuropeptides that improve your immune response.
A 2005 article in Scientific American discusses the positive effects of laughing. That paper lists increases in the release of pain suppressing native opiates from the pituitary gland, in the production of immune cells, in antibody levels in blood and saliva, and in natural anti-carcinogenic killer cells. Laughing also decreases cortisol and epinephrine production by the body, both of which are stress responses: cortisol suppresses the immune system and epinephrine increases likelihood of hypertension and heart failure. Spontaneous reproduction of white blood cells and increased immunoglobulin A are produced by laughing, and all of these things help the immune system.
In many ways, laughter does the opposite for the body that stress does to the body. So, do yourself a favor. Laugh it up out there, people.