About now, you’re probably asking what the heck is there to laugh about. We’ve been in lockdown for the better part of a year, many small businesses have been forced to close, and millions of people don’t have enough money to pay for even basic necessities. Suicide rates are at an all-time high, schools are closed, and it was an election year. Need I say more? These things would drive many of us to drink liquor or take sedatives, but working with my clients through this past year showed me a better way to cope, and it’s made a big difference for most of them.
What is this coping mechanism? I simply coached my clients to laugh more. And guess what? It worked wonders. I thought it would be worthwhile to help my readers discover this wonderful remedy for dealing with the never-ending chaos in our country (and for that matter, the world). Let’s study what makes laughter so important, even when you think there’s nothing to laugh about. Oh, and by the way, you need to at least put a smile on your face for the remainder of this article. Deal? (Smile)
Defining the Process of Laughter
Laughter, according to one of its many definitions, is simply a manifestation of mirth or joy. Though laughter can be a scornful way to convey distrust, in most cases we laugh when we find something funny or amusing. Interestingly enough, what’s funny to one person may be the opposite to another.
Many of us find the most laughter from babies, little children, and animals doing funny things. We also laugh at humorous childhood memories that stay with us long after we grow up. Some popular TV shows are made up of 100 percent funny or amusing encounters that people get caught up in. The best laughter, as we all know, is spontaneous. So treasure each burst of laughter because (as you’ll read below) it does so much more than just provide you with good memories.
Some Benefits of Laughter
Studies show that laughter can relieve stress. To paraphrase from this article discussing the physical health benefits of laughter, it helps us in the following ways:
- Organ stimulation: A hardy laugh helps us take more oxygen-rich air into our lungs and stimulates our heart muscles. It gives these major organs much needed exercise, which is especially helpful for those who don’t practice a regular exercise routine.
- Muscle relaxation: We know that stress can be a major cause of muscle tension. Laughter is a proven way to relax those tight muscles, giving them a brief, but deep, rest.
- Cardiac health: Your heartrate actually increases when you laugh, which in turn increases the amount of oxygen in your blood. This may improve vascular function and decrease the risk of heart attack.
- Immune system health: The benefit of laughter on the immune system is particularly interesting since many of us spend so much money to keep it in tip-top shape. Turns out that our negative or unhappy thoughts can produce chemical reactions that decrease our immune system health. Laughter is a great way to develop a consistent positive attitude, which can release infection-fighting antibodies and neuropeptides.
- Blood pressure: The endorphins released when you have a good laugh can lower your blood pressure by decreasing the negative side effects of stress hormones.
- Weight loss: Laughing burns calories and also reduces the chronic effects of stress hormones, which include weight gain.
What If I Don’t Know How to Be Funny?
Some people have a natural gift for being funny and entertaining. Unfortunately, not all of us are gifted in that way. But if you want a lighter touch in your day-to-day humdrum conversations, you can actually learn the skills that come naturally to others. For example, Udemy offers humor courses. You can find classes on how to speak, think and write funnier as well as how to use humor at work and in your social life, plus many more. Visit their website to start developing some of those spontaneous laughing skills.
You can also check out the book Do You Talk Funny? The most important thing is to look for amusing, spontaneous situations in your life. And remember, you may need to cultivate laughter to make it a healthy habit.
Ever Hear of the Feel-Good Foods?
In my article “Be Happy—No Matter What,” I list some foods that can protect us against depression or the inability to be joyous. If you are missing these foods from your diet, your brain’s sense of perception of funny things may be dulled, which would obviously make it more difficult to experience joy and laughter. These are also the same foods that traditional cultures valued for good health. They provide vitamins A and D, calcium, and arachidonic acid in abundance, and I truly believe they can make you happier. They include the following:
- Cod liver oil. (My preference is Green Pasture or Tuna Omega-3 Oil from Standard Process.)
- Butter from grass-fed animals.
- Egg yolks from grass-fed chickens.
- Fats from grass-fed animals.
- Organ meats from grass-fed animals.
- Bone broths. (Find recipes for calcium-rich bone broths in Nourishing Broth by Sally Fallon Morrell and Kaayla T. Daniel and The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet by Monica Corrado.)
- Raw, whole milk from grass-fed animals.
- Fish eggs.
- Small whole fish.
Learn more about the fourteen most nutrient-rich foods at my Traditional Cook website.
In closing, it’s my hope that I’ve given you a new way to cope with whatever the New Year brings. In addition to laughter, we must always remember that this great country has weathered other tough times, including wars, pandemics, and other events that could have completely torn the fabric of this great Republic. Let’s keep praying for peace and unity, and let’s stay cheerful, healthy, hopeful and, above all, playful.
Disclaimer from Maria Atwood, CNHP: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor or health practitioner prior to following any recommendations I make in my blog posts or on my website.