Laugh and be healed

Have you ever been in one of those really down moods when everything seems to be going wrong? Your job is the job from hell. You got on the scale this morning to find you've put on another five pounds. Your teenage kids have wrecked the car, eaten you out of house and home and then dare complain their rights are being violated when you ask them to turn their rap music down. Woe is me!

Well, needless to say we can't change other peoples' behavior. Yes, indeed they may need an attitude adjustment -- and you'd like to be the one to give it to them, right between the eyes. But you go to jail for those kinds of things, so that's not really an option -- unless three squares and a padded cell appeals to you. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad, already feeling caged, at least they would feed me.

So what can one do to ease the discomfort? Diffusing a situation with laughter, giving a light touch to the situation not only helps them, it will make you feel better too.

Humor and laughter has been a hotly debated topic in healing over the past two decades. The famous author, Norman Cousins, in his landmark book, Anatomy Of An Illness, told his own story of how humor positively effected him. Diagnosed with Ankylosising Spondylitis, a painfully debilitating condition of the spinal cord, he found that when his friends came in and he could laugh, the pain would let up. While hospitalized he would have the nurses play old Marx Brothers movies and the belly laughing would bring him a couple of hours of pain relief. He defied all odds and lived many more quality years after his diagnosis was considered terminal.

The effects of laughter on the human body are not fully understood, but here are some facts. Hard laughter that comes from the belly has been shown to work like an internal massage. Laughter has been scientifically proven to increase endorphines, brain chemicals that make us feel good and relieve pain. People who laugh more than frown have fewer facial wrinkles. It takes only 14 muscles to smile and 72 to frown.

Here are a couple of belly busters that may help you laugh today instead of cry.

A sign over the office door at a small pub where my daughter and I ate while vacationing on the island of Catalina last year -- ''I have PMS, I have a gun -- ANY QUESTIONS?!''

My first client came in the other day and as I started to give her a massage, I said, ''Gee Kathy your shoulder muscles are tight.'' Her reply ''Oh that's good. Then not everything is sagging!''

Roger Williams, the famous pianist, likes to play for the older crowds in nursing homes. One day after giving a lunchtime performance, one kindly elderly woman hung around commenting time after time how well her nephew played the piano and that maybe he could learn a thing or to from him. He gently inquired, ''do you know who I am?'' ''No'' she said, ''but if you ask at the front desk they can tell you.''

Humor is everywhere. We do sometimes have to look for it -- other times it finds us. I hope you find something humorous in your path today.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online June 20, 2000

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