Sunday, September 13, 2009

Laugh 12

Again tonight, it's time to give you another bit from from Chapter 3 of "Life's Greatest Lessons" by Hal Urban. If you are just here for the first time and would like to start reading from the beginning, you will find it all at my label Good For A Laugh. It's a small chapter, so if I only give you small bits it lasts longer... and I only need to type out a short bit each time. :o)

But laugh he did. Cousins developed a systematic program for getting daily doses of hearty laughter. He started by watching reruns of old Candid Camera programs. He then went on to Marx Brothers movies and anything else he could get his hands on that would make him laugh. Later, when her wrote of his healing experiences in Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins said, "It worked. I made the joyous descovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep." Medical tests done since then have stablised that there is a physiological basis for the biblical theory that laughter is good medicine. As Josh Billings, a nineteenth-century humorist, said, "There ain't much fun in medicine, but there's a heck of a lot of medicine in fun."

After his remarkable recovery, Cousins continued to study the effects of positive emotions on the human system. Eventually, he joined the faculty at the UCLA Medical School, a rare appointment for one without an M.D. Cousins also wrote somewhat of a sequel to Anatomy of an Illness. It's called Head First: The Biology of Hope. In it, Cousins explains more fully the physiological benefits of laughter, especially since more research has been done on it in recent years. He devotes an entire chapter called "The Laughter Connection" to it. Without repeating here the mountains of scientific evidence supporting the theory that laughter is a great healer, let me just summarize the findings of Cousins and the doctors who have worked with him. There is now clear evidence that laughter can be a strong painkiller. In addition, laughter can enhance respiration, produce morphine-like molecules called endorphins, increase the number of disease-fighting immune cells, reduce stress, stimulate the internal organs, and improve the circulation of the blood. Cousins concludes, "Extensive experiments have been conducted, working with a significant number of human beings, showing that laughter contributes to good health. Scientific evidence is accumulating to support the biblical axiom that 'a merry heart doeth good like a medicine'".

Cousins was one of the pioneers in linking laughter to healing. Since his initial explorations, his research has been duplicated by many both in and out of the medical profession. Best known among them are Ddr. Bernie Siegel and Dr. Patch Adams. Both have written extensively about the power of humor and hope in the healing process. If you haven't seem the movie Patch Adams, I highly recommend that you rent a copy. It's a little corney in spots, but otherwise heartwarming, funny and based on scientific evidence.

To be continued....


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For bird flu you need tweetment and for swine flu you need oinkment.


Anonymous said...

I'm so enjoying this. It's fantastic. Love the joke :) Cousins is right on the mark if you ask me :)

James | Postcard Printing said...

As they say, A good laugh will make your life lighter and gives you a meaningful bliss. So laugh until you cry that would be the greatest feeling you have ever felt.