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Wednesday, August 26, 2009


When I was a kid, I was a devout reader of Reader's Digest. First I read the "jokes" (or, as they called them, "humorous anecdotes"; I even got one published in the 80s). Then I read everything else.

One of their columns was called "Laughter Is The Best Medicine." I can't remember any of the jokes, but that title always stuck with me.

It turns out to be true. The benefits of laughter can be akin to those of a mild workout. So, herewith, the medical benefits of laughing:

  • Laughter uses a lot of muscles, a surefire way to release stress from your body.
  • Laughter increases the production of immune cells in the body.
  • Laughter releases endorphins, creating a feeling of well-being as well as relief from minor pain.
  • Laughter strengthens blood vessels and increases blood flow, leading to healthier hearts.

Not enough? It also has mental benefits (joy, zest, bouncing back) and social ones (makes you more attractive, and makes people like you).

Of course, it's hard to separate the effects of laughter from the humor that causes it. But let's not get hung up in that.

Find a funny movie (check YouTube). Read some jokes . Look at cartoons. But be sure to actually laugh, don't just think to yourself "That's funny."

Better yet, do all of these things with someone else, because we all know that laughter is contagious.

And not surprisingly, if you laugh, you'll be happier.

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