Senior Perspective: Laughter, the cure to what ails you
Written by Marge Woodfin, Pilot staff writer   
March 30, 2011 04:00 am

I am sick of the news. It  all seems to be bad and even scary, and with television on everywhere, it’s almost impossible to get away from it.

We all need a strong antidote for the bad news and I suggest laughter.

The following quote from Eugenia Price doesn’t quite say it all, but it’s certainly a good start.

“Wholehearted, ready laughter heals, encourages, relaxes anyone within hearing distance. The laughter that springs from love makes wide the space around it – gives room for the loved one to enter in. Real laughter welcomes.”

I’m sure many of you remember, as I do, that Norman Cousins proved that laughter can be healing.

In 1964, Cousins was in the hospital being treated for what was considered an incurable connective tissue disease. He was in constant, acute pain. His prognosis was grim and his treatment included heavy doses of pain killers, recommended by his highly-respected doctors.

Cousins left the hospital and checked into a hotel suite (which he said cost about one-third as much as the hospital room). He began his own treatment regimen: massive doses of vitamin C and laughter

He watched old episodes of “Candid Camera” and Marx Brothers films and discovered that 10 minutes of belly laughter provided at least two hours of painless sleep.

In an attempt to measure the salubrious effects of the laughter, Cousins had sedimentation readings taken before and after a session of laughter and they discovered a drop of at least five points after each laugh session.

Since then, additional experiments have shown that laughter does indeed increase the body’s production of endorphins, a chemical resembling opiates that reacts with the brain’s opiate receptors to raise the pain threshold. I have heard others describe endorphins as pleasure producing.

Not many of us, fortunately, will suffer connective tissue disease as did Cousins, but we all have bad days,  sometimes bad weeks, months or even years. And, with the current plethora of bad news inundating us, it’s easy to slip into depression.

How in the world does one laugh in the face of depression? I’m not sure that it will work for everyone, but I know there are those who say getting exercise helps to lift the depression a bit. Maybe a good run or walk, followed by a funny movie.

Sometimes watching little children or pets play can lift the spirits. Some of you may have much better ideas, but the goal is to get one’s mind off of the depressing thoughts until laughter can come, and with it the endorphins that truly lift the spirits and lessen the pain.

An anonymous quote suggests another spirit-lifting possibility, “The warmth of a friend’s presence brings joy to our hearts, sunlight to our souls and pleasure to all of life.”

Maybe it’s time to call or visit a friend. But, don’t ask the friend to crawl into the black hole with you. Instead, let the friend to lift you up with happier thoughts.

That wonderful woman Helen Keller, who could neither hear nor see, said, “Life is either an exciting adventure, or it is nothing at all.”

She also said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Consider the beauty that surrounds us, find a joke, and laugh. Here’s one.

A police recruit was asked during the exam, “What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?”

The recruit quickly replied, “Call for backup.”

OK, I know you can do better. So, do it, and laugh your way to health and a life of exciting adventure.