For the most part, when you go and get medical treatment, a clinician is not necessarily going to tell you to take two aspirins and watch Laurel and Hardy, but the reality is that’s where we are and it’s more real than ever. There’s a real science to this. And it’s as real as taking a drug.Dr Lee Berk, Professor Of Medicine, Loma Linda University
The magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium is similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic activity, but without the aches, pains and muscle tension associated with exercise. We don’t recommend that you laugh and not exercise, but we do recommend that you try to laugh on a regular basis. Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system.Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center
Believe it or not, having a really hearty chuckle can help too. This is because laughing gets the diaphragm moving and this plays a vital part in moving blood around the body.Dr Andrea Nelson, University of Leeds School of Healthcare
…and if you look at laughter as a simple yet most fun and effective way to breathe deeper:
Deep breathing techniques which increase oxygen to the cell are the most important factors in living a disease free and energetic life… Remember: where cells get enough oxygen, cancer will not, cannot occur.Dr. Otto Warburg, President, Institute of Cell Physiology, Nobel Prize Winner (Dr. Warburg is the only person to ever win the Nobel Prize twice in medicine, and he was nominated for a third.)
Deep diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the cleansing of the lymph system by creating a vacuum effect which pulls the lymph through the bloodstream. This increases the rate of toxic elimination by as much as 15 times the normal rate.Dr. J.W. Shields, MD, Lymph, lymph glands, and homeostasis. Lymphology, v25, n4, December 1992, p. 147.
Oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune system. We can look at oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of all diseases.Stephen Levine, a respected molecular biologist and geneticist, and Dr. Paris M. Kidd, Ph.D., in Antioxidant Adaptation—Its Role in Free Radical Pathology, 1985.
Breathing correctly is the key to better fitness, muscle strength, stamina, and athletic endurance.Dr. Michael Yessis, PhD, President Sports Training Institute, Fitness Writer – Muscle and Fitness Magazine.
All body functions are breathing related. Proper oxygen delivery to all parts of your body is crucial to health and well-being. Aerobic exercise increases the body’s available oxygen and therefore promotes wellness. Delivering oxygen to the body is the responsibility of the respiratory system. Breathing is the process by which air enters the bloodstream, by way of the lungs. Thus, proper breathing, and correcting common breathing disorders, is the ultimate form of aerobics.Dr. Robert Fried, Breath Connection, Insight Books, 1990, p. 52.
Laughter quote of the day
More quotes about laughter
An optimist laughs to forget; a pessimist forgets to laugh. -- Tom Nansbury
Did you know?
- All humans laugh, and laughter always involves a similar pattern of whooping noises. The sound of laughter is so common and familiar that it can be recognized if played backwards on tape. Deaf people who have never heard a sound still make laughing noises1.
- The laughing noises produced by humans share many of the acoustic properties of speech, which is further evidence that laughter is hijacking the brain and body apparatus that we use for breathing and talking.
- Adults between the ages of 18 and 34 report laughing the most.
- In terms of quantity there is no marked difference between laughter in men and women. Differences do exist, but on sounds and acoustic features (quality). In women, laughter predominates (“ha ha ha” and other vowels). In men, unvoiced laughter is frequently alternated with voiced laughter (puffs, whistles, growls, roars)2. Watch Professor June Gruber from Yale University explain the research findings of Dr. Jo-Anne Bachorowski on gender differences in laughter at http://lou.pm/mwl.
- The majority of men report that their laughter is a chuckle, and the majority of women report that theirs is a giggle.
- Smiling is a mild, silent form of laughing.
- Infants start to smile within the first five weeks of life and laugh at around four months3.
Six different types of laughter according to the Uvasagadasao
The Uvasagadasao (an ancient Jain treatise) classifies hasya – or laughter and wit – into six types4:
- Smita, or gentle smile
- Hasita, or smile
- Vihasita, or gentle laughter
- Upahasita, or laughter of derision
- Apahasita, or vulgar laughter
- Atihasita, or excessive laughter
Even though we laugh from all over our brain6
, the areas that control laughing lie deep in the sub-cortex, and in terms of evolutionary development these parts of the brain are ancient, and are responsible for primal behaviors such as breathing and controlling basic reflexes. This means laughter control mechanisms are located a long way away from brain regions that developed later and control higher functions such as language or even memory. Perhaps this explains why it is so hard to suppress a laugh even if we know it is inappropriate, or why the brain responds even when we smile at ourselves in the mirror or simulate laughing with enthusiasm. Once a laugh is kindled deep within our brains these ‘higher function’ brain regions have trouble intervening.
Hypothesis 2: We are tuned for laughter
Humans may be “tuned” for laughter much in the same way that songbirds are “tuned” for song, especially their own specific family song. While birdsong of one species may sound the same to you and me, there are subtle differences between various individual on that species. Certain nerve cells in the songbird’s brain “fire” in response to hearing his song. Perhaps humans have specialized nerve cells that respond to laughter. After all, laughter is a specialized vocalization, and we are “tuned” to respond to vocalizations with language.
Hypothesis 3: It’s because of mirror neurons
Another possible reason why laughter is contagious is because of mirror neurons. This is addressed in an article in Explore magazine entitled Strange Contagions: of Laughter, Jumps, Jerks, and Mirror Neurons (2010). The author, Larry Dossey, describes several cases of “laughter epidemics” and uncontrollable laughter called “laughing jags” (p. 119). The phenomenon that laughter is contagious is attributed to mirror neurons that fire in both the individual laughing and anyone witnessing the laughter.
Mirror neurons were discovered while studying the brains of macaque monkeys in the early 1990s. It was observed that the neurons on the frontal cortex of the monkey activated when he reached for a peanut. It was also observed that the same neurons fired when he merely witnessed the researcher reaching for a peanut. After such a discovery, the research was extended to humans and similar results were found. Dossey states that researchers now assume that mirror neurons fire during empathetic reflection of facial expressions and emotions, mimicry and the acquisition of language. The author goes on to discuss the idea that laugher is contagious because of said empathetic reflection, a psychological premise that has been scientifically validated as a result of the discovery of mirror neurons. This may explain why and how people with a warm, genuine, voluminous laugh can get everybody around them to laugh just by laughing themselves with sincere enthusiasm.
Humor, in contrast with laughter, requires higher brain functions (right frontal cortex, medial ventral prefrontal cortex, the right and left posterior temporal regions and possibly the cerebellum). This is why a sense of humor is a psychological trait that can respond to different types of humorous stimuli and therefore varies considerably between ages, genders, cultures, etc.
We want to believe we’re rational, but the sad truth is that how we feel about something dictates what we choose to believe about it, regardless of what the facts are.
Until the late 19th Century, the prevailing attitude towards laughter was a negative one as if Proverb 17:22 was an error in the text: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Church dogma suggested laughter was detrimental to spiritual wellbeing, and many commonly considered it impolite and sinful.
Our relationship with laughter has changed tremendously over the course of the 20th Century, but old doubts have proven very resilient and we still have mixed feelings about it. Is it beneficial or childish? Is it therapeutic or trivial? Is it helpful or irrelevant?
My goal here is not to persuade you of anything, but rather to make you aware of what is available to you. Use it or ignore it. Either way this wonder medicine is built in inside of the human body and will always be there for you, patiently waiting.
A few laughter myths debunked