Growing evidence confirms suspicions that laughter is not only fun, but good for us! WebMD reports that laughter and moderate exercise share a host of healthful effects. According to Dr. Lee Berk's research, appetite hormones behave the same way after a good giggle as they do after a few workout reps. In science-speak: leptin goes down and grehlin goes up. Berk's volunteers watched stressful videos and hilarious videos (in no particular order) while their hormones were monitored. The results show comedy may be good for more than a chuckle.
Berk hopes his findings can assist patients who have lost their appetite. The elderly, handicapped, depressed and ill might benefit from repetitive laughter research. Overachievers may well enjoy a chortle during exercise for added benefit. Though a small study, Berk's work joins other science in supporting laughter as good medicine. More conclusive work may cause this writer to re-evaluate the association between 'cackles' and 'evil'. What can't hurt may heal!
If you haven't already, look back at what we've already covered.
Ok, here's where we get spiritual. So you've done all the writing and stuff, but it's time for me to let you in on a new secret. The ideas that come from you aren't yours. Especially the really good ones. That's good news. It means you're off the hook. It means you're off the hook to "figure it out" and to "do it right." You' dont' have to worry about whether your jokes are "funny enough" or "good enough" because they're not coming from you anyway. They're coming from Source. From something greater. Some source outside yourelf. Even this idea isn't mine! (Thank you, Guides!)
ACTION: Sit with a new blank piece of notebook paper and light a candle. Send a wish, prayer, or invocation out, calling for your muses. Ask them to help you go to the Source, the Well, to pick out some really genius ideas, and to be their champion to bring them back to the world. Set a timer for at least 10 minutes and just wait. Then start writing. Don't worry about what comes, just write. Do this for at least a week.
Did you know we've been laughing for 7 million years?
The Quarter Review of Biology recently published a study on laughter. There are two kinds. (Of course, Osho wrote about four kinds, so science is still lagging behind on this front…)
Thee first kind of laughter is a) spontaneous and b) stimulus-driven. The study says that just because someone is laughing with you, doesn???t mean that it is spontaneous or stimulus-driven, which is the natural kind of laugh that mirrors ape play, which arose around seven million years ago.
The second, ???dark side of laughter??? kind of laugh is strategic and sometimes can be cruel. "One type of laughter arises spontaneously from the perception of a certain class of events, while the other is used strategically in interaction to influence others or modulate one's own physiology," said Gervais, who is a researcher in the Evolutionary Studies Program at Binghamton University in New York. Here's where I read the article.
In laughter yoga, I aim for my laughter to always be the first kind of laughter. But I don't think this study gets at the whole picture. Laughter needs to be practiced to become part of one's life if it's been missing for a long time. That's why in laughter yoga, we encourage one another to laugh, through exercises designed to create that spontaneous first kind of laughter. Don't feel discouraged if it takes time to remember how to laugh spontaneously. It's still a practice for me. I'm even starting to laugh at standup comedy again after years of training myself to slap the table with a straight face and say in a deadpan tone, "That's funny." But it takes practice.
So come practice. Come take a laughter yoga class with me. Or come see a standup comedy show!