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Well-being Works

Laughter and well-being

For thousands of years doctors and philosophers have been aware of the benefits of laughter. Plato remarked “Even the gods love jokes”.


Did you know in 2010 the government set up The National Well-being Programme? The aim is to develop and publish an accepted and trusted set of national statistics which help people understand and monitor well-being. Life is 10% about the events that happen to us and 90% about how we respond to them.Sun

In the 1970’s, Norman Cousins wrote a book called Anatomy of an illness.The book describes his experiences as a patient suffering from heart disease and later ankylosing spondylitis. Cousin’s method of dealing with ankylosing spondylitis- a very painful and debilitating condition, included having a positive attitude, love and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.He noted that after 10 minutes of belly laughter he was able to have 2 hours pain free sleep.

Modern medicine has been uncovering the beneficial effects of laughter for some time. In the 1970’s research by Dr Lee Berk and Dr Stanley Tan showed that laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and produces endorphins the body’s natural pain killer. Just a few years ago, professor Dunbar of Oxford University, conducted studies into pain thresholds and laughter. His researchers split a group of people into two groups- one watching videos with slapstick humour and the group watched videos without any humour.

The results indicated that the people in the group shown the slapstick comedy videos experienced belly laughs and they were able to take up to 10% more pain than before. On the other hand, the other group who had not watched any comedy had the same level or less of a pain threshold than before.

Hunter “Patch“ Adams founded Gesundheit Institute - a not for profit holistic health care institute. A film was made about his work as a doctor and a clown. Patch Adams believes in the doctor/patient relationship and the restorative powers of compassion, love and laughter: and is portrayed in the film using humour to aid the recovery and well-being of his patients.

How wonderful to taste sweet laughter on our lips rather than the bitter taste of anger. Laughter is like the sun coming out on a winter’s day. Have you ever noticed how the sun can melt the ice on windows?

Laughter facts

  • They say the eyes are the windows of the soul. After hearty laughter our eyes glisten and shine.
  • Laughter changes how we feel and view life and encourages positive thinking.
  • Laughter creates an emotional “balance”. If positive feelings increase then, negative feelings decrease.
  • Laughter is a global language understood everywhere.
  • Laughter exercises the lungs, diaphragm and heart.
  • Laughter improves circulation. Laughter provides an aerobic exercise for mind, body and spirit.
  • Laughter produces a general feeling of well-being.

Laughter Tips

Write down events you find amusing and collect laughter tips. a couple of examples of laughter tips are -

  • Don’t take life too seriously. When we laugh at our situation we feel a sense of relief.
  • Think of a situation when you found something so hilarious the laughter built up in inside you until it was impossible not to laugh.
  • Life is about choices. Choose to laugh and enhance your well-being.
  • They say laughter is a smile with the volume turned up.
  • The steps to laughter start with a smile, followed by a grin, followed by laughter.
  • Start the process now with a smile.

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