No matter what happens, don’t forget to laugh

One of my goals in life is to laugh every day. For that reason, I usually watch at least one old sitcom—Gilligan’s Island, I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gomer Pyle, Green Acres, Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie—the classics.
This routine began in the 1980s when I first read “Anatomy of an Illness” by Norman Cousins, long-time editor of Saturday Review, and it has continued till this day.
Faced with a serious illness, Cousins tried laughter along with other therapy and it worked.
A very articulate person, Cousins went on to write and lecture about the importance of humor in healing. Then he authored “Anatomy of an Illness.”
He found humor is healthy for your heart. People who laugh recover more quickly from a heart attack. And people who laugh are less likely to ever have a heart problem.
Cousins called laughter “internal jogging.” And a good belly laugh can do your heart as much good as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise.
Fortunately, cardiologists are beginning to research the benefits of laughter. “The old saying that laughter is the best medicine definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart,” said researcher Michael Miller of the University of Maryland Medi-cal Center.
Laughter also can help fight infections, lower your blood pressure, exercise your lungs, combat stress, reduce pain, and heighten mental function. Laughter is the easiest medicine in the world to swallow—and it has no harmful side effects.
People who laugh live longer than those who don’t laugh. According to Dr. James Walsh, “Few persons realize that health actually varies according to the amount of laughter.”
With so many reasons to laugh, it is still sometimes difficult to laugh.
When you watch world news and think of all the suffering, when health problems strike your friends or family, when you worry about the environment, when your kids get down-sized out of their jobs, when you have difficulty walking as you age, how can you possibly be expected to laugh?
Yes, it’s easy to forget to laugh. But it isn’t smart because you need laughter for your health—especially when you don’t feel like laughing.
Researchers tell us the ability to laugh can be learned, and a hearty fake laugh, or a simulated laugh, has the same effect on health as spontaneous laughter.
So when you don’t feel like laughing, begin with a smile. Put on a happy face even when you don’t feel happy. When you smile on the outside, you’ll feel better on the inside.
Then go on to create laughter. Turn off the news and turn on your favourite comedy show. Tell a joke. Remember something funny that happened to you. Enjoy a funny movie.
Watch a squirrel outside the window, making a fool of himself trying to get to your squirrel-proof bird feeder. You know he’ll win in the end, of course. Squirrels always do. But in the meantime, you can laugh because you’ve foxed him.
Get outside of yourself and remember what a wise man once said, “The most wasted day of all is that on which we have not laughed.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning healthcare writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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