Revel in the joy of laughter with Dr David Hamilton
Everyone likes a good laugh. It’s one of the ways that we express a moment of sheer joy. It can be because something unexpected and funny happened, it might even be a flashback of a memory, or it might occur as you watch something on TV or listen to a friend telling a joke. But whichever the route, the joy of laughter feels amazing. It’s also exceptionally healthy…
Have a giggle
Laughter floods the brain with endorphins, which act as natural painkillers. It’s why pain can often diminish during, and for a while after, a bout of proper belly laughter. Research on laughter began after journalist and world peace advocate Norman Cousins was given a 1 in 500 chance of recovering from a combination of a crippling connective tissue disease combined with acutely painful ankylosing spondylitis, a severe form of arthritis that affects the spine. He recovered completely after spending two hours a day laughing. His choice for inducing this laughter was by watching Marx Brothers films and Candid camera, which were particular favourites of his.
That was in 1964. Cousins shared his story and strategy in a book called Anatomy of an Illness, which caught the attention of academics. It was then that serious research began on the health effects of laughter.
“It’s possibly the only positive infection one can catch”
Spread the fun
It does more than reduce pain. It also gives our muscles on the outside and inside a workout and even burns a lot of calories. In fact, some researchers refer to laughter as a form of ‘internal jogging’. Who hasn’t laughed until their tummy or ribs hurt?
Laughter is also contagious. In fact, when one person starts laughing heartily, it’s almost impossible not to be infected. It’s perhaps the only pleasurable infection one can catch, and the thing with laughter is that we can choose to do it every day. We can give ourselves that burst of joy by simply watching comedy (live or on TV), reading or telling jokes or reading funny stories.
LOL all week long
Decide to have a good laugh every day for the next seven days. You’ll need to plan your strategy. Which TV shows do you always laugh at? Do you have a particular movie you’ve watched several times that always makes you laugh? Can you go see a comedian at a comedy club? Before you begin, decide if this is something you wish
to do with friends or family or by yourself, or a bit of both.
1 Start by writing down the days of the week for the next seven days.
2 Beside each day, decide which laughter induction you’re going to choose. Will Friday be a night watching episodes of ‘Friends’ or ‘Schitt’s Creek’, or might you visit a comedy club? Which day might you visit that friend who feels like sunshine and always makes you laugh? Which night is comedy movie night?
3 Plan all seven days and or nights until you have something tangible listed for every day.
4 Laugh until your sides hurt! Capture the moment with a selfie and either email or DM it to S&S mag!
5 Oh, and at the end of the week, take stock of how you feel? Do you feel better than you did before you started this exercise? What’s the lesson then?
Dr David Hamilton is a Scottish author with a PhD in organic chemistry, who tours the UK giving speeches on the mind-body connection. Go to drdavidhamilton.com