Laugh Loud, Laugh Hard, Live Long
A dyslexic walks into a bra…
Ha-ha-a-ha-ha-ha! Get it? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Hey, are YOU laughing? NO? Not a single snort? Too deep and sophisticated, huh? Too PC to snicker at a silly jibe about the learning disabled?!?!?
Well, DROP DEAD. Literally. Because that’s what’s going to happen to you — faster than me — if you don’t start guffawing at everything remotely amusing. You don’t have to be sincere about chortling. Just fake it! Your brain knows you’re a hypocrite but your idiot body does not. Laugh Loud, Laugh Hard! Laughter is healthy, healing, life-extending!
Let’s try again:
Q: Why do dogs lick their balls? A: Because they can.
Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! I can hear you now! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Amazing how much funnier everything is when your life depends on it.
Mirth as medicine was first prescribed in the 14th century when Henri de Mondeville — the “Father of French surgery” — asked hospital visitors to give joie de vivre to his patients via jokes. Five hundred years later un autre French doctor Duchenne de Boulogne recognized that wide smiles send a signal of joy to the brain. In the 1930’s, the United States “sent in the clowns” at children’s hospitals to cheer up polio victims. With his dual professions of MD and street clown, Patch Adams resurrected this tradition in 1971. At his “Gesundheit! Institute,” laughter is recommended for recuperation.
The biggest hit for hilarity arrived in 1964 when journalist Norman Cousins was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (a painful arthritis of the vertebrae). His physicians told him the disease was incurable and fatal. Ignoring this death sentence and ditching his painkillers, Cousins sequestered himself in a hotel and cackled with comedies until he was cured. Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers and Candid Camera were his primary lifesavers. Cousins observed that every ten minutes of vigorous laughter provided him with a natural anesthetic that gave him two hours of pain-free sleep. His snickering survival is summarized in his 1979 best seller Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient. Today, he’s recognized as the pioneer of “laugh therapy.”
Cousins defined the physiological response to funniness as “internal jogging,” claiming benefits similar to exercise. Dr. William Fry — author of Sweet Madness: A Study of Humor — provides an exact equation: 20 seconds of Belly Laughing = 3 minutes on the Rowing Machine. (Har-har, stay home and watch accidents on YouTube) Numerous studies say glee gives us enhanced oxygen supply, endorphins, T cells, defense against cancer and infections, pain tolerance, circulatory/muscular/lymph/digestive health and it decreases stress, depression, blood pressure, pulse rate, and arterial stiffness. Precise chemical changes were calculated in 2002 by Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University. His subjects that anticipated laughter from an upcoming funny video had:
- increased endorphin levels by 27% (elevates mood)
- increased human growth hormone by 87% (optimizes immunity)
- decreased cortisol by 39%, adrenaline 70%, DOPAC 38% (lowers stress)
How valuable is this? Yes, I have a $$$ amount. Mike Adams — author of Five Habits of Health Transformation — says, “for every minute of laughter you produce somewhere around $10,000 worth of healthy body chemistry.” Looking for an easy drug? Lee Im-seon, laughter therapist at Seoul National University Hospital, claims that “the hormones secreted when people laugh are known to alleviate pain 200-300 times better than morphine.” Does the Grim Reaper hate the sound of chuckling? Yes. Laughing at life gives you more life to laugh at. Dan Buettner — author of 2008’s Blue Zones — studied centenarians in four nations and discovered that “there wasn’t a grump in the bunch.” In 2006, after studying 54,000 Norwegians for 7 years, Dr. Sven Svenbak concluded that folks who find life funny have a 35% greater chance of survival. This swells to 70% if they’re diagnosed with cancer.
Dead set on life, humanity is now marketing humor into hysterical packages. Online, you can howl along with a Laughing Chain Reaction Video (its contagious!) or sift through millions of jokes seeking a snicker. If you want actual meat-company with your comedy, you can take a Laughter Meditation or a Laughter Yoga class. The latter is especially expanding… and embarrassing. Created in Mumbai in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, it’s now available in 6,000 classes in 60 countries. Thirty-minute sessions guide participants through a gauntlet of fake-laughing exercises with carnival names like “Ferris Wheel,” “Roller Coaster” and “Electric Shock.” Is wild hardy-har-har laughter declining? Will forced laughter be required? Yes, according to a UK study revealed on the six-part 2006 BBC program The Happiness Formula. On that show, only 36% of Brits said they were happy, laughing a mere 6 minutes per day. Life was far more rip-roaring in 1957 when 52% of Brits were happy, guffawing a solid 18 minutes per diem. Laughter eventually evaporates in every individual’s life. Trivial children shriek like banshees an estimated 300-400 times per day, while ponderous adults laugh only 15-17 times, with South Korea reporting a solemn 10.
Obviously, we all need to Laugh for Longevity, and I’ve got sage advice other gurus neglected. Hamsters and gerbils are entertaining to watch when they roll around inside plastic balls. Children are giddy, but pricey. Sarah Palin and the Tina Fey upgrade are shockingly silly. And lastly, there’s nitrous oxide — “laughing gas.” A whippet per day should give you all the goofy ha-ha you need.
To conclude, I would not be the responsible healer that I am if I didn’t warn you of dangerous SIDE EFFECTS. Here’s a cautionary list of horrors that may happen if you abuse the potent medicine of laughter:
- Peeing in Your Pants — common and inconvenient; can be remedied with Kegel exercises that strengthen the pubococcus muscle.
- Pooping in Your Pants — less common, but almost unavoidable if you’re constipated and the laugh contractions loosen your abdomen.
- Vomiting Through Your Nose — painful, anti-social, and often leads to emetophobia.
- Death — in 1989 Ole Bentzen was killed in a movie theater by John Cleese’s antics in A Fish Called Wanda. The Dane’s happy heart was destroyed when his pulse neared 500 bpm. Sir Thomas Urquhart — translator of Rabelais — also died laughing in 1680 when he heard that Charles II was ascending the throne. Charles, aka “the Merrie Monarch,” was a jovial libertine who fathered at least twelve illegitimate children; two bastards were forefathers of Princess Diana — I digress.
- Creating a “Laughter Epidemic” — On January 30, 1962, three schoolgirls in Kashasha village in present-day Tanzania started laughing and could not cease. Sent home, they transmitted their hysteria to the neighboring villages of Nshamba and Kanyangereka. The epidemic lasted six months. One thousand people were infected and fourteen schools were closed. Western psychologists categorize the plague as “Mass Psychogenic Illness” (MPI). There’s no record of the original joke that got the girls giggling. If discovered it would be valuable in warfare.