Laughter—a prescription you can afford

It’s been almost 10 years since I spoke at a Washington, D.C. health conference. I can hardly recall my speech any more, but I will never forget the Kansas City physician who spoke at the plenary session.
He came down the aisle in a clown suit—with a painted face, funny hat, bright red ball for a nose, and huge floppy shoes.
The physician, who worked in a children’s hospital, often went to work decked out like a clown.
He told of children who had serious diseases like leukemia and other cancers, and had lost all of their hair. The stories were heart-rending. Yet, from the beginning to the end of his speech, the hall was filled with laughter.
He talked about the importance of laughter for healing. And we all felt healthier after 45 minutes of laughing.
Another doctor who speaks about the prescription of laughter is Dale L. Anderson, author of “The Orchestra Conductor’s Secret to Health & Long Life.”
According to Anderson, laughter is a cheap prescription for feeling good.
A physician for 40 years, Anderson now practises part-time in Minneapolis and spends the rest of his time speaking on the effects laughter and happiness have on a person’s health.
An entertaining speaker, he addresses 100 major audiences each year.
Initially, Anderson says he spoke because he thought it would be “a great retirement business.” But now, it has become a mission.
In his book “Never Act Your Age,” this physician writes a prescription for his readers—smile and laugh more if you want to be healthy, happy, and young.
Anderson is really serious about this “prescription” business. He says laughter and happiness activate your body’s upbeat chemistry. These positive behaviours create an inner pharmacy that leads to health.
We all know that the way we act makes a difference. If you act happy and upbeat, you will have more friends and a nicer life. On the other hand, if you act grouchy and irritable, you can make yourself unhappy and unhealthy.
“In the past 40 years of medical practice, I have seen many different acts,” says Anderson. “I have seen young people act old, old people act young, sick people act well, and well people act sick—and eventually, they all get into ‘the chemistry of their part!’”
Anderson recommends acting to create health. Like actors on a stage, ACT what you want to be.
ACT contented. ACT cheerful. ACT healthy and vigorous. Even when you don’t feel like it. Just fake it, says Anderson. The effect on your health is the same.
“By learning to act healthy and vital, even when you don’t feel that way, you can change your body chemistry and begin to feel the way you act.
“I am now dispensing the best medicine of my 40 years as a physician,” Anderson adds.
He is prescribing “Laugh for the Health of It.” And when people rehearse the part over and over again, it becomes REAL. “I call this habit formation,” says Anderson.
So put on a happy face. Stand straight and tall. Associate with positive people. Eliminate stress and anger.
No matter what your age, ACT HAPPY and always remember happy people are healthy people!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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