Laughter and Health

Have you noticed that in life, there’s usually a trade-off between what’s good for you, and what’s fun?  Push-ups and steamed vegetables and regular pap smears:  all very good for you, but not much fun.  Hot fudge sundaes and margaritas and charging up your credit cards on a shopping spree?  Fun! But not all that good for you.  However, a few rare activities, like playing with puppies or hiking a beautiful ocean-bluff trail, are both enjoyable and healthy.  And the most basic of these healthy pleasures? It’s laughter.

There’s actually been a fair amount of research on how good laughter is for you; among other things it decreases stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and beefs up your immunity.  (And for more information, Blogher contributing editor Catherine Morgan had done a great round up of the health benefits of laughter).

Getting More Laughter

So we know it’s good for us, but how do we manage to find more opportunities to laugh? Well, there are some great ideas in this week’s Juice video, featuring Terri Tate.  (And make sure to catch this one; hers is a very inspiring story).  For example, if you’re just not feelin’ it, try one of those videos of laughing babies.  As Terri points out, laughter is contagious! Here’s a random laughing baby video. But just google; there are lots more out there.

Some other ways to encourage more laughter:  hang out with funny people when you have the chance, bookmark funny sites on your computer for a break (rather than checking the stock market or your blog stats),  turn to comedies for entertainment, and most importantly, try to adjust your attitude to see the humor in life.

That last one is easier said than done, right?  But if we get in the habit of taking ourselves and our minor problems less seriously, and instead recognize that as human beings, we are supposed to be flawed, ridiculous, absurd and laughable creatures, that attitude can go a long way towards encouraging hilarity instead of stress.

For example, suppose you’re rushing too fast in the morning and you get careless and you end up dumping an entire blender full of blueberry smoothie all over yourself, your brand new briefcase, and your outraged and horrified cat.  Well, that could either be a rage-inspiring, morning-ruining tragedy… or a funny story.  How quickly you can go from the first perspective to the second?  I do think this ability is something we can cultivate, with a little practice and a fair amount of swearing.

On the other hand,  what if the misfortune you’re dealing with is not temporary and trivial?  What if the reason you need the healing power of laughter is that you’ve got some awful medical issues to deal with? Can you really still manage to laugh about it?

Well, I’m not sure if I could or not.  I’m a huge whiner, even about little things.  But somehow, many brave folks (like Terry Tate in the video) manage to find the humor in difficult circumstances.

Medical  Humor

Here’s just a random sampling of some Blogher health-related humor.

Facing a hysterectomy or other uterine-related surgery?  Go to Cake Wrecks for some inspiration and amusement.

Got cancer?  Over at Feminist Review,  they have a the scoop on a new book out called “Cancer Bitch” which is based on a blog by the same name.  According to the reviewers, the book is “witty and relentless, surprising and honest.”

Have a dying relative?  This frank exchange was featured over at Postcards From Your Mama.

Backstory: I was discussing with my mother how callous my family can be about the death of a loved one.
Mom: That is true. We are ruthless and efficient if nothing else
Me: it’s the German in us
Mom: Yep. Our motto is ” die already. We got better newer versions of you who could use some furniture”

Dealing with a chronic painful disease?  The Bloggess explains what rheumatoid arthritis feels like, and yes, being the Bloggess her explanation somehow involves stilettos and strippers and pole dancing.

Are you the sort who can you find the humor in difficult situations?

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