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Laughing your way to a healthier you

You’ve heard the old adage “Laughter is the best medicine.” Well, it turns out that this saying is actually sound medical advice.

Laughter produces actual physical changes in your body. A good belly laugh releases endorphins, naturally occurring neurohormones that make us feel better.

The result, researchers report, is that humor can help reduce stress, decrease anxiety, reduce pain and even strengthen our immune system. Laughter helps people feel more stable, more creative and more hopeful. All that from a few belly laughs.

Want to try a small experiment to see the benefits of humor? Put a big smile on your face, even if you aren’t feeling particularly happy. What thoughts and feelings does that smile bring?

Next, make a frown and see what feelings come to mind. Then put the smile back on your face but try to think a negative, pessimistic thought, something like “I’m not going to get all my work done today.” Taking that negative thought seriously should be difficult to do when your face is busy saying something much different.

Finding more humor to help you feel better shouldn’t be hard to do. Start with obvious sources, like favorite writers whom you find funny. Dave Barry and Erma Bombeck are on that list for many people, but there are many popular, funny writers.

Checking out cartoon strips in your local paper and online is another way to get a small dose of daily humor.

Of course, plenty of TV comedies can make you laugh, or maybe you’ll listen to a radio personality you find funny. If you’re feeling particularly blue, find a funny movie at the local theater or rental store, then share it with a friend who can laugh along with you.

Many people enjoy looking for and collecting humorous things so they can go back and smile at them a second time. Maybe it’s a funny newspaper headline, a note of someone saying something odd or a quote you find particularly amusing.

Humor has the power to help keep you healthier, feeling better about yourself and enjoying the world around you more. All you have to do is give yourself lots of opportunities to smile and laugh.

Even a small smile a few times a day can help brighten your attitude, and finding reasons to laugh more often just might brighten your whole world.

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