Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

Creating Your Own Humor Plan of Action

by Nancy Weil

mother and son having fun outdoors in a park

We have all heard the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine,” but what is it about this simple act that can transform an ordinary moment into one of pure joy? Can we bypass jokes, riddles and pranks to just harness the power of a simple giggle in order to feel better now? Babies laugh before they can talk, but why is it hardwired into us to laugh?

Laughter produces many automatic responses in the body instantaneously. Laughter reduces blood pressure, boosts the immune system, enhances memory, reduces pain, increases circulation, and relaxes our muscles. Laughter also causes us to breathe more deeply, and helps us focus our awareness to the present moment. With so many benefits, a daily dose of laughter is as necessary to your health as taking your vitamins or a visit to the gym. (I paid my membership fee, but then discovered that I actually had to show up in order to gain any benefit!)

Creating a personal Humor Plan of Action (HPOA) will insure that you can laugh on even the grumpiest of days. In fact on the days when you feel the least like laughing, is when you need to the most. List on your HPOA the things that make you laugh, even looking at your reflection in the mirror on a bad hair day! By writing them down, you have a list to refer to, which will help on the days when laughter seems fleeting and joy out of reach. Since your brain does not completely differentiate between authentic and forced laughter, you can still harness the benefits no matter your mood.

What type of things can you put on your HPOA list? Watching a funny movie or television show, playing with your dog or cat, hearing a baby’s deep belly laughter, finding humorous clips on YouTube or in your Facebook feed, playing with a slinky, blowing bubbles or reading the daily comics are all examples of what people add to their list. Locally, you can attend an improvisational comedy show at ComedySportz, listen to a stand-up comedian at Rob’s Comedy Playhouse, enjoy a fun night of theater, or even join a laughter club. (Interested? Contact me and we’ll get one started!) The ways to wellness through laughter are endless, but the first step of the journey begins with the smallest of giggles and eventually will lead you to the deepest of belly laughs with the tears running down your legs!

About the Author:
Nancy Weil is a Certified Laughter Leader, who has helped thousands of people get in touch with their inner happy through her company, The Laugh Academy, and her book If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might. She also serves as Director of Grief Support at the Catholic Cemeteries. Learn more about happiness and laughter at www.TheLaughAcademy.com.