I rarely disagree with science, unless of course, I don’t like what I hear. But in this case I fully agree. Laughter is like medicine for the human body and mind.
Actually, I was fibbing about disagreeing with science. I rarely agree nor disagree, I merely take it all in, without the slam of any judgmental gavel. But I digress – the human body rarely has a feature that isn’t necessary. Our ability to laugh is no different. In fact, I feel, it is one of the body’s built in healing systems.
Just as white blood cells rush to the scene to heal a cut, laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being. You’re impressed with that last bit aren’t you? You should be – it took a bit to research, then copy and paste. Not to mention, change the font so all things appeared cohesive. As a side note: I wasn’t even sure if Gamma-interferon was a real word – it is.*
Joking aside, when we laugh, our body benefits. It’s not merely a goofy sounding body eruption. Regardless of the body’s natural inclination to seek out humor, many people work ardently to refrain from choosing happiness. As I age, I have come to realize that choosing happiness is as important as choosing the right foods, the quality of information we take into our minds and the company we keep. These things all benefit the person as a whole.
I rarely take myself too seriously. Those who know me best know the profound goofball I am. For me, things die a bit when kept tucked under a constant, dark and serious light. There are days though, when I wake and feel as though smiling is not an option. On those days I work fervently to find something to release me from the weight of gloom and depression. I feel no shame in admitting that I have, many times, resorted to spending hours in front of the laptop viewing funny images and jokes. Once my face has cracked through its frown, I take a deep breath and know that I am now, ready to take on my day. I’ve lived through depression. And unless one has experienced it first hand, they really do not understand its powerful tentacles, nor do they understand the way it can camouflage its voice to sound much like that of your own.
But the body wasn’t created to live with depression. The world has left us all a little battered, and far from the mentally and physically strong humans we were intended to be. Yet, the body knows the direction in which to go to find health. Like a multi-vitamin, laughter is a necessary nutrient. To that same end, when something loses all joy, I begin to view it as toxic.
Please forgive me, that this post was not written in my normal lyrical tone. I don’t feel lyrical. I feel like doing what I am doing, speaking frankly and drinking wine while rocking methodically on my deck. Yes its hot out, and yes I’m sweating like a beast; but I needed fresh air. So on that discombobulated final note, I will leave you with this:
*Credit where credit is due: Dr. Lee Berk and fellow researcher Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University in California.