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Yesterday a very wonderful patient asked me if I was “okay”.  I responded: “sure…I appreciate you asking, but are you sensing I am not?”.  She replied (paraphrase):  I can tell from the tenor of your blog entries that you are much more serious in your posts and almost seem sad at times.

I thought about this and I know she is correct in her assessment.  My stress/worry/concern is resulting in me finding little humor in anything these days.  During “normalcy” I find myself laughing about lots of things and most certainly try to bring some element of humor into my postings.  

So, how/why is laughter important?  Well, here are some reasons:

A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.

Short-term benefits

A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects

Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.

Given the above use of “laughter as a medicine”, we should all try to watch funny movies instead of Zombie apocalypse movies, share funny videos with our loved ones and keep reading Posner’s blog as there will be a joke now posted at the end of each entry.  Here goes:

A priest, a pastor and a rabbi walk into a bar and soon begin arguing over who’s the best at what they do.

Eventually they decide that in order to prove who’s the best, they would all go out alone into the woods and convert a bear to their respective religion.

A few weeks later.. they meet up at the bar and the priest announces, “I found a bear by the river and started talking to him about the Lord. He liked it so much that he now comes to mass every week.”

The pastor says, “Well, I saw a bear in the clearing. I started reading him the bible and he loved it so much that he is now going to be baptized in about a week.”

The priest and the pastor turn to look at the rabbi, who now has a broken arm, a fractured collarbone and several cuts and bruises. The rabbi says, You know what, looking back.. maybe I shouldn’t have started with a circumcision