Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing. –Mark Twain
Laughing is the best medicine. LOL. Have you laughed out loud today, or yesterday? When was the last time?
The comic cartoons in the daily newspapers are said to be what most people read first. The renowned New Yorker has a loyal readership not in small part due to their brilliantly funny cartoons. With a few strokes of a pen by one with a deep sense of humor and keen observation, volumes of emotions can be expressed.
Laughing makes us feel better – and there are proven medical benefits. To laugh, we must inhale deeply and exhale forcefully. This exercise forces oxygen into our body and brain, strengthening and stimulating our feeling of well-being. Even a friendly smile relaxes and exercises our facial muscles, helping to maintain our youthful appearance. (:
Science has identified the neurological reasons for forms of laughter and mirth, or so I have read, but do not fully comprehend. I doubt that humor can truly be parsed. Basically, they say that humor is associated with brain networks involving the temporal and frontal lobes in the cerebral cortex. Located near the top of the brain, these cortical areas are related to speech, general information and the appreciation of contradiction and illogicality.
Enough science from my simple brain. E.B. White best explained it when he wrote: “Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.”
The simple fact is that we need to laugh and smile to stay healthy in body and mind, for positive mood changes, to overcome mental and physical fatigue, to lift the spirit, and to generate good feelings. If you can’t find a smile today, then start with a deep yawn. This practice also generates oxygen (the breath of life) and floods your body and brain with relaxation, a sense of calm, and heightened awareness.
Once you have smiling and laughing down to a science, try learning yogic breathing which has been practiced for thousands of years. It is very similar. The psychological benefits are healing and uplifting, and an essential part of the mind and body connection.
Smiling and laughing are easy to do. Just be aware and develop a habit. There’s nothing wrong with looking in the mirror and seeing your smile, as others do. You’ll notice a difference. You’ll like yourself!
For a powerful testimonial of the healing power of laughter, Norman Cousin’s Book, The Anatomy of an Illness, is touchingly positive. With the constant company of humor, he beat his cancer into remission.
Our blessed desert community attracts folks who have made many contributions in their lives. Why is it then that one sees so many not-so- happy faces? Of course going on in years (getting older) is not for sissies. Even more reason to remember that every new day is a gift to be celebrated with gratitude, accompanied by a smile and boisterous laughter.
I conclude with one of my favorite quotes: “If you choose one characteristic that would get you through life, choose a sense of humor.”
George can be reached at email@example.com.