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Laughter: Is it Really the Best Medicine?

by | Mon, Nov 26 2018

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Laughter medicine

As Christians, we should be some of the happiest people on this planet, yet life gets in the way. Recent scientific discoveries exploring the impact of laughter and its impact on the workforce, suggests that laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.

It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort.

It reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and nondiabetics alike.

It can improve your job performance, especially if your work depends on creativity and solving complex problems. Its role in intimate relationships is vastly underestimated and it really is the glue of good marriages. It synchronizes the brains of speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned.

Laughter can establish or restore a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people; In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together. In fact, many of the health benefits of laughter may simply result from the social support that laughter stimulates.

There is new evidence that laughter helps your blood vessels function better. It acts on the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, causing vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood flow. In other words, it is good for your heart and brain, two organs that require the steady flow of oxygen carried in the blood.

At this year’s meeting of the American College of Cardiology, Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland reported that in a study of 20 healthy people, provoking laughter did as much good for their arteries as aerobic activity. He does not recommend that you laugh and not exercise, but he does advise that you try to laugh on a regular basis. The endothelium, he explains, regulates blood flow and adjusts the propensity of blood to coagulate and clot. In addition, it secretes assorted chemicals in response to wounds, infection or irritation. It also plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

“The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,” said Dr. Miller. “So given the results of our study, it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium. And reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

At the very least, he adds, “laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium.”

The researcher can’t say for sure exactly how laughter delivers its heart benefit. It could come from the vigorous movement of the diaphragm muscles as you chuckle or guffaw. Alternatively, or additionally, laughter might trigger the release in the brain of such hormones as endorphins that have an effect on arteries.

It is also possible that laughter boosts levels of nitric oxide in artery walls. Nitric oxide is known to play a role in the dilation of the endothelium. “Perhaps mental stress leads to a breakdown in nitric oxide or inhibits a stimulus to produce nitric oxide that results in vasoconstriction.”

Dr. Miller offers a simple prescription that will not bankrupt you and could save your life. “Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system,” he says.

How to start laughing more?

So, why is it that we do not laugh that much, or in some cases at all, anymore?

Have we let the cares of the world, the burdens we carry, the wounds in our bodies, minds and souls weigh us down to the extent that we have stopped or have forgotten how to laugh.

Well, here are a few (practical) things you could do, to start laughing again:

First, you need to take a minute out of your busyness. Change the location of where you are at present, take a walk, hide in the bathroom or go for a drive – because unless you take time to stop (and do this intentionally) it will not have the best effect.

  1. Ask yourself what makes me laugh – then do more of that
  2. Think about something that happened in your past that made you laugh-out-loud. Now replay it in your mind . . . and then watch what that does to your face!
  3. Go to a place where you can watch an animal – or maybe a baby – take the time to see how silly they can be.
  4. Join a “dad-jokes” group on Facebook and check it out every day – not all dad jokes will make you laugh, some will make you groan – but they could put a smile on your face.
  5. Watch a funny movie (or YouTube video) – with a friend who is crazy!
  6. Make funny faces . . . in the mirror . . . when no one else is about.
  7. Engage (as often as you can) with a person who you know, makes you laugh – make this a regular occurrence
  8. Do something to make someone else laugh and watch the effect it has on you.
  9. Read a funny book or favourite comic strip.
  10. Put a laughter quotes up on a bulletin board, or start a scrapbook or Pinterest Board of funny things you find.

Why should Christians be the happiest people?

As Christians, we should be some of the happiest people on this planet, because;

  • Our sins are forgiven . . . and removed from God’s memory
    • Psalms 103:12 – “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
  • We have eternal rewards awaiting us:
    • In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.
  • He has promised to be with us – always – regardless of what we are going through
    • Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • God himself rejoices (laughs) over us
    • Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

I hope this puts a smile on your face – because, it is good for you!

Andrew L'Alamont

About the Author

Andrew L’Almont is the Chief Partnerships Officer at Vision Christian Media.

Contact Andrew via email on