Before Jennifer Dickenson was diagnosed with brain cancer 12 years ago, she was a busy and stressed-out lawyer. With two elementary school-aged children and a supportive husband, she vowed to do everything she could to improve her odds. Based on the tools she used for herself with miraculous results, she shares this information with others. Her book, “The Case for Hope”, teaches others how we can restore health.
The importance of laughter
One of my favorite tools I used fighting illness was prioritizing joy in my life and, more specifically, laughter. This simple practice can help us let go, relax, give ourselves a break from the challenges of our lives, and laugh-ourselves silly just because it’s fun to do!
But laughter is no laughing matter. The bible says in Proverbs 17-22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” So, even when things are not ideal in our lives, it is important, like “a medicine”, to find some laughter somehow.
Research has shown that laughter can enhance our health and mood by relieving stress and stimulating our organs by introducing more oxygen intake, thereby supporting our heart, lungs, and muscles. It also increases endorphins released from the brain which help create natural pain killers in our bodies and allow us to feel happy and relaxed. The consistent use of laughter can also improve our immune system and increase personal satisfaction as we are more able to deal with difficult situations.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy good-hearted laughter.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy good hearted laughter. I personally enjoy listening to and watching stand-up comedians. My favorite ones make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts and I am left with a big smile on my face. At the end of this blog I have a list of top stand-up comedians you can explore for yourself. Easy ways to find these acts are on TV, streaming services, satellite radio (like Sirius in your car), the internet, or buying their DVD’s and CD’s.
Spending more time with friends and family members who are particularly funny can be a good source for more laughter. Funny board games (like Mind the Gap or Twister), movies and tv shows like Seinfeld, The Office, and Caddyshack can be hilarious too. Funny podcasts, certain humorous books, joke books and just telling jokes to each other can help us get more of this good stuff. Have you ever played knock-knock jokes with little kids? That can also be a real hoot.
Listening to humorous books on CD’s can be another way to feel the joy of laughter. In fact, my friend who has a great sense of humor, bought me a bunch of used funny books on CD when I was sick. I listened to them on my way to my doctors’ appointments, at home, anywhere really, since it made me feel happy and better prepared to manage my situation. One of them, Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern (the book was a #1 New York Times Best Seller), was an instant classic for me. I’m smiling just thinking about it!
It is interesting to me that we can fake our laughter and still receive the healing benefits from real laughter. Laughter yoga, is similar to yoga but incorporates the action of laughing to create energy, oxygen and relaxation in our body and mind. Those who subscribe to this technique believe that the mind and body can’t discern whether we are faking our laughter or genuinely doing it. But often the fake laughing becomes the real thing which is funny to watch.
It might seem a little strange but there could be something to it. When I was in high school one of my teachers, probably sick of these annoying teenagers, started class one day by playing a laughter track. It started quietly with just a few chuckles from the track, and then more and more, until the voices on the track were filled with laughter. It was contagious for the kids, and the whole classroom, normally filled with teenage angst, was now filled with laughter as we were mercilessly powerless to stop it!
My teacher clearly won that day! But really, we all did.
So don’t wait to dive into yet another healing tool easy to incorporate in your life that will help you on your path to wellness, joyfulness, and balance…and start laughing!
Some well-known stand-up comedians you may want to explore:
Little to no profanity
Oldies but Goodie