Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is the Best Medicine-Art HOPE
Smiling is a symptom of wellness.

Whatever ails you can be relieved with a little humor, even when it’s no laughing matter. Keeping things light when your inner light feels dim is not only the best way to feel well, but as a 90 year old friend reminds me, maintaining a sense of humor will keep you young and sassy. Life has its ups and downs, its sadness and euphoria. We live through the best and worst times, and wit makes every day better. Like a vacuum cleaner, humor is one of the few things that is better when it sucks.

Smiling is a symptom of wellness. Humor is the happy stimulus, laughter is the positive physiological and psychological response. It feels good because it involves the dopamine system of the brain which triggers a release of the body’s feel-good endorphins. Humor lowers levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” and increases immune function. Less stress = more health. Laughing uses various muscle groups that help the body relax and it can even burn calories. An aid to digestion and more, sometimes a deep uplifting belly laugh can release a little pee or a fart. It oxygenates the blood and energizes the soul, and is used to help treat depression, protect against heart disease, improve tolerance to pain, and support people coping with longterm illness. There is powerful medicine in mirth, even though laughter can be contagious. Humor also enhances memory, because who can remember jokes and deliver that all important punch line? It’s improving mine. I increasingly remember things that never happened.

Humor helps us be better humans. It’s a universal language that inspires smiles, giggles, guffaws, hearty roars, and happy tears. The cerebral joy of a good laugh is a peak creative experience, a natural high when we let go of inhibitions and are present in-the-moment. When we’re alone or laughing aloud with others, the funny bone tickled can stimulate a positive placebo effect in mind-body-spirit and is the way to wellness. Whatever the juxtaposition of unconnected ideas and goof ball irony that creates it, humor is a primal human expression that communicates our silly side. It dispels our grumpy moods and makes us vulnerable to surprise, improvisation, and happiness. It relates truths and untruths, as expressed by the highly creative cartoonists, satirists, and pundits in the media today who are having a renaissance in the hilarity of reality.

Need a little comic relief? Join me and my senior friends for shared foolery and lots of creative fun at the Art HOPE Studio Spring Cabin Fever Reliever at the York Housing Authority – Village Woods Wellness Center on Tuesday, March 22, 1:30 to 3:00 pm. We are a lively group and if you want to hear a cheesy joke…it’ll be pretty gouda with some wise crackers.

The wonderful drawing is from an Art HOPE volunteer, thanks R. L. for sharing your gentle cheerfulness.