Practicality is the essence of most of my blogs. I want to show people an easy way to help themselves have a healthier life. A lot of the time the blog’s theme talks about how the food we eat can make us a healthier person, and in fact, help us avoid expensive medications and procedures. My joke about that subject is that one should go to the “Farmacy” and not the Pharmacy. Granted most people would not laugh out loud (unless you are easily amused like me), but the objective of the comment has health implications. Laughter can be the best medicine!
According to several studies including this one from Loma Linda University in CA laughter can actually affect the immune system. Cells from the innate immune system including were boosted for 12 hours after a “mirthful laughter episode”. That means that you really found it funny, and it started in your gut. Not the, “I’ll laugh to be polite at a silly pun that the local chiropractor said to me”.
Laughter also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is key, because most of our day is taken up by the sympathetic nervous system. This is the stress response. In the old day this was needed to run from a bear to not die or to catch a rabbit to eat to not die. Both of these are physical activities. Today when we get stress it is from money issues, emotional issues, work issues, or some other issue that doesn’t cause us to run. We just internalize the stress, and that wreaks havoc on our systems. Parasympathetic activity is the rest and relaxation part of the nervous system. How often do we get to use that? Not as often as we should.
Not only does laughter affect the immune system, but it also activates the frontal lobe of the brain. This is the part of the brain where things like executive function, personality, conceptual understanding, understanding empathy, and concept of self comes from. This is an important part of the brain to keep functioning properly. The reason it is activated by a joke is because you have to try to figure out why a joke is funny. It is a lot like a math equation. If I were to say, “if you would like to know what kinds of foods are good for you, then look at the nutrition label, and if one exists, then it is most likely not good for you.” You have to use the frontal lobe to piece together the irony in the statement.
Call to action:
I think that most of the comedians that I love would really appreciate this statement, but try to find a way to laugh out loud at least twice daily (remember that the effect on the immune system only lasts 12 hours). Not only is it good for your immune system, but your frontal lobe and parasympathetic nervous system as well. Everyone needs to exercise these parts of their brain anyhow.
I also feel like it is a great way to help people with their day. Sometimes it takes a good laugh to change an outlook on one’s day. If I am having a rough morning, and someone gets me to even chuckle it changes my entire outlook on that day. So go out and change someone’s outlook today. Make ‘em laugh! It may just help them fight a cold!