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My sister Morgan has a great laugh!
For thousands of years, we have all heard that laughter is the best medicine. Whether your problem is physical, mental, or emotional, it is good to remember what Mark Twain said, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” I know that even on a good day, I love to laugh, and I love to hear the laughter of people I care about.

The positive health implications of laughter are linked with specific physiological responses, including transient tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, increased respiratory rate, spasmodic skeletal muscle contractions, increased catecholamine production, and stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (Phipps, 2002). Following these events is muscular relaxation and the return of cardiovascular function to somewhat lower than baseline. 

Today, many professionals are finding that laughter is literally what the doctor ordered. As a physician, Dr. Don Colbert points to the reciprocity of laughter and happiness by stating that laughter is a product of happiness, while happiness can be a product of laughter (Colbert, 2005). This is his reasoning behind prescribing ten belly laughs per day to his patients – even his cancer patients (Colbert, 2007). Laughter is beneficial not only to cancer patients, but also bereaved spouses. In their study of well-being among recently widowed spouses, Lund, Utz, Caserta & de Vries (2008) found that those in their study with the lowest levels of grief and depression had higher levels of humor, laughter, and happiness. They also found the opposite to be true – those with the lowest levels of humor, laughter, and happiness experienced the greatest grief and depression. While the authors were careful not to jump to causal conclusions, they declared the findings strong enough to warrant further longitudinal study.

Before I was old enough to appreciate the effect of laughter on my health, I still knew that humor had a great effect on my outlook. My family loved watching reruns of the 1980s classic show “The A-Team” when I was growing up. The sense of humor and camaraderie on the show was palpable. Even in life-and-death situations, a can-do attitude, a joke, and smile helped save the day. (The fact they kept the body count low by using unusual weapons like trash cans didn’t hurt either:) As silly as it sounds, watching this show at such a formative time is one of the many things that shaped my desire to look at life in an unusual, fun, and positive way. I think that is the real value of humor – it helps us transcend the artificial confines of the moment to see what can be. As Jean Houston pointed out, “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”

Well, I can't leave you with all of this great motivation to LOL without giving you something funny, right? Here is one of the funniest videos I have ever seen...and it is one you can actually watch with your kids...courtesy of the Scientists of Hilarity at Bored Shorts is "Basketball Class"....
References

Colbert, D. (2005). Stress less. Lake Mary, FL: Siloam.

Colbert, D. (2007). The seven pillars of health: The natural way to better health for life. Lake Mary, FL: Siloam.

Lund, D. A., Utz, R., Caserta, M. S., de Vries, B. (2008). Humor, laughter, and happiness in the daily lives of recently bereaved spouses. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 58(2), 87-105.

Phipps, S. (2002). Reduction of distress associated with paediatric bone marrow transplant: Complementary health promotion interventions. Pediatric Rehabilitation, 5 (4), 223-234. 
 



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