Laughter and humor are much needed in the over-serious world of health and beauty, a world which tends to measure health not as joyous energy and creativity but in terms of cholesterol levels, blood pressure and sedimentation rates. The irony is, that according to the latest research into the mind body relationship, a life which sparkles with laughter is not only good for you because it feels good, it can also help look after the state of your blood pressure, immune system and cholesterol levels.
Some researchers believe laughter can help look after the state of your blood pressure, immune system and cholesterol levels far better than high powered medical care and drugs. Drugs, after all, have deeply worrying side effects. The worst of laughter's side effects is joy.
When we laugh we shed feelings of judgment, self pity and blame. Our perception shifts and we come to know another level of consciousness. Laughter deepens your breathing, expands blood vessels, heightens circulation bringing more oxygen to your cells, increases the secretion of hormones beneficial to your body, speeds tissue healing and helps stabilize bodily functions. A new philosophy is emerging from studies carried out in France and Canada by philosopher Andre Moreau on the notion that one should seek in all philosophical teachings the keys for releasing innate human tendencies towards humor, laughter and positive energies. It is known as "Jovialiste" which advocates the practice of smiling as a free expression of human vitality and creativity.
Meanwhile, hospitals both in the United States and Europe are even prescribing laughter in the form of Jerry Lewis and Marks Brother's films, humorous books and any other simple triggers to put patients into a blissful state of spontaneous giggles.
life on the flip side
The way that emotions and health are closely related has been investigated for many years. The scientific press is full of papers which show the way that negative emotions such as anger, resentment, fear and despair are major factors in the development of serious illness from cancer to coronary heart disease.
Scientists have charted direct pathways between mind and immunity via anatomical connections that link the brain directly to organs such as the spleen and the thymus gland. They have also shown that hormonal secretions induced by emotions and thought patterns create a second pathway between mind and body which is carried on the blood, and there is strong evidence that excess adrenaline from high levels of stress can significantly depress the body's immune system. But until recently most of the focus of mind-body research has been on the negative.
Now, thanks to the new fascination with laughter, many scientists are beginning to investigate the biochemical changes brought about by positive emotions and encouraging their use as tools for health and healing. Researchers now find that laughter, relaxation, meditation and hope not only produce beneficial changes such as lowered heart rate and breathing, they can even improve the way your body responds to stress hormones, and bring about a shift in your perception of potentially stressful situations so you can look on them as challenges rather than as insurmountable problems - a vital attitude in preserving and enhancing the health of your mind and body.
One of the very best things of all about laughter is that it breaks through the tendency each of us has to take our self and our values too seriously. It breaks down the roles we play and liberates the self locked within. It is our tendency to identify with our own self-created image, fears, beliefs and assumptions that takes us away from the joy which we believe is normal for each of us to feel. Give yourself a chance to laugh, and it will make you feel more alive, healthier and more beautiful.
learn to laugh
Seek out and spend time with people who make you laugh - often.
Look for books that make you laugh, and keep a file of cartoons and magazine articles which you can share with your friends.
Learn to be silly sometimes - like a child. Maybe join a drama class where they do improvisation, or make friends with children who still remember how to laugh and play and let them be your teachers.