My belief in the power of humor and joyful living to relieve stress is based not only on these centuries-old notions but on cutting-edge science. In recent years, researchers have shown that laughter positively affects the body in a number of ways:
*The body temperature rises, making you feel warmer *The pulse and blood pressure drop*Muscles contract, then relax as you laugh * Breathing becomes deeper * Serum oxygen levels are elevated, which benefits the cardiovascular system, heightens energy levels, and reduces tension.
Laughter also boosts your immune system. It activates T lymphocytes and natural killer cells, both of which help destroy invading microorganisms. In addition, laughter increases the production of immunity-boosting gamma interferon and speeds up production of new immune cells. It also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can weaken the immune system.
A robust laugh gives your diaphragm, thorax, abdomen, heart, lungs and maybe even the liver a good workout. Laughing for ten minutes is similar to rowing on a rowing machine one hundred times. Your muscles tighten and relax, and thereby grow stronger. Thanks to a pulmonary cardiac reflex, your pulse can double from say, 60 to 120. Laughing is aerobic! Norman Cousins, considered to be a proponent of laughter as a healing agent, said laughter was a form of “inner jogging”! He used laughter to relieve the pain of an arthritic condition called ankylosing spondylitis. He incorporated laughter into his treatment when he was hospitalized and found it reduced the amount of pain he felt. Pain clinics now use humor in many of their facilities.
A more joyful life occurs when we realize that the moment we’re in is the only moment there is. Try to shout “I’m glad to be alive” more often then” I can’t wait to get out of here.” Being in the moment gives you the ability to handle life’s imperfections. Hey, this is what exists—it’s not such a big deal.
Most people compartmentalize laughter and joy, reserving it for the weekends, birthdays, or holidays. I believe you should live as if you only have a few minutes left. Celebrate the moments, hours, and minutes of your existence.