Contagion: Laughter

How well developed is your sense of humor? Today, let’s talk about nearly everyone’s favorite subject: the importance of laughter and its place in our lives.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “There are three things that are real – God, human folly, and laughter. The first two are beyond comprehension. So we must do what we can with the third.” When we hear laughter, we tend to join in, because laughter is contagious.

These days, we know that humor is a vital sign of life that affects us both physiologically and psychologically. Genuine laughter signals emotional flexibility and is a common reaction to the unexpected, the unpredictable. Some folks claim that one good belly-laugh – that full-out, no-holds-barred, tears streaming down your face laugh – can give you up to 90 days of protection against illness. If that’s true, imagine what a full-on giggle-a-day could do!

Humor and creativity have much in common and, for many people, laughter has given them a new lease on life. As Norman Cousins pointed out, it “interrupts the panic cycle of an illness,” and people who use humor to help them cope can more easily let go of anger, fear, anxiety, hostility, and a host of other negative feelings that hinder healing. Reader’s Digest didn’t name its column “Laughter is the Best Medicine” for no reason.

Laughter is the other side of darkness – a light in the personal wilderness of pain and confusion, frustration and despair. Although we are born with the ability to smile and laugh, a sense of humor must be cultivated, but it’s well worth the time.

The ability to make others laugh is an invaluable quality. However, the ability to make ourselves laugh is even more precious. You become your own built-in, late night comedian! So, develop a ticklish funny-bone, and you’ll be growing in more ways than you might think!