Beneficial sides effects of laughter were recognized even earlier than people can imagine. Greek philosopher Plato used to say that "Even gods love jokes" and some advantages of laughter can be found in different religious books. However, medical recognition of laughter and its positive affect did not begin until Norman Cousins published an article in New England Journal of Medicine in 1976.
He suffered from spondylitis, an illness which mostly affects the spine and causes its inflammation. Even though the doctors were not so optimistic about his recovery, he managed to fully recover thanks to his positive thoughts and laughter. His decision was to leave hospital proved to be the good one. He stayed in a hotel and regularly took vitamin C and spent hours watching humorous shows and comedies. The results were amazing since ten minutes of laughter meant two hours of solid sleep without any pains. Despite the pessimistic expectations, he recovered and wanted to emphasize to the medical experts that laughter and positive thinking can be a cure to a disease.
Positive thoughts and a sense of humor should take a greater part of our day. William Fry, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University Medical School conducted a survey which revealed that an adult laughs 17 times a day as opposed to a child who laughs 300 times. This is simply because people are too tense and cannot find the right way to relax. Humor is not about laughing at other people, but rather the ability to laugh with them, to laugh at our own mistakes and pains, even Socrates once noted that "the comic and tragic life lie inseparably close". Laughter alleviates pains and makes them more endurable.
There is a great number of advantages to laughter:
- If you laugh at your own expense, you can avoid arguments with other people, especially the ones who would make fun of you.
- While laughing, our body releases endorphin which helps in reducing the pain.
- After a hearty laughter you will feel better because laughter reduces stress, anxiety, depression and it also is a good means to free your bottled-up emotions.
- Psychoneuroimmunology, the science which does researches on the relationship between mind and body, shows that laughter can strengthen our immune system.
- Our sense of humor helps communication with other people and we can easily become good team players.
- Humor uses both sides of the brain, the left one for understanding the joke and the right one to decide if the joke is funny or not.
- People with a sense of humor have more friends since everyone likes to laugh.
- Humor can help you endure the life hardships easily and to face the challenges in better way and in the end come out of all of it with a smile on your face.
- Dr. James Walsh points out that laughter massages the face and other organs, so it is a kind of exercise.