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Laughter: Medicine For The Body And Soul

Having grown up in a bright purple house, my mother was a costumer for the local Theater Guild.

Every holiday she decorated the large pink ceramic pig in our front yard and I thought we were normal.

I was always voted class clown and made sure I lived up to my reputation.

I had no intention of becoming a teacher, since they were my favorite “targets;” but I was being well-equipped with life’s most powerful tool, the ability to find humor in almost anything, especially the faux pas of life.

Since professionals will tell you that self-effacing humor is the funniest, I have kept a lifelong repertoire.

My first college date with my future husband, who now calls me, “Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucy,” was College Entry #1. Having lost 100 pounds, I only had one pair of clean underwear, Big Mama Size XXXXL.

Thinking one flimsy safety pin could hold them in place, I had no idea we would have to run across eight lanes of traffic that night. As the pin gave way, so did the pants, and I did the Bunny Hop across the boulevard to keep from being run over.

As a young wife I set the kitchen on fire twice, had three automobile accidents in my own garage, and thanks to Hubby, even made America’s Funniest Home Videos.

As a speaker, presenter, and teacher with thousands of audience members each year, I have no way of knowing what they are going through or what challenges they have faced.

Unfortunately there is one common denominator that seems to strike all of us these days and that is stress. It’s true that we cannot change what has happened to us, but we can change our reactions and our attitudes.

As a high school teacher with classes starting at 6:30 AM, I inevitably faced teens with hormones running rampant, sleep-deprived hungry bodies, and all the drama that goes with the age.

When I began teaching teachers in a university Master’s program, I found they were just the same. Now as a speaker worldwide, I have found that people are the same wherever I go. Equipped with this bit of wisdom, I begin each presentation the same as I did when teaching.

In order to get minds focused, attention spans corralled, and anticipation stirred, the trump card is always humor.

I didn’t learn the added benefits until much later. Research tells us that:

  • Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, and epinephrine (adrenaline.) It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and the number of antibody-producing cells. This means a stronger immune system and fewer physical effects of stress.
  • Laughter provides an emotional release to the extent that most of us can remember a time when we laughed so hard we would cry.
  • A good “belly laugh” actually exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even provides a good workout for the heart.
  • Laughter brings the focus away from current problems and negative emotions in a beneficial way.
  • Laughter connects us with others; it is contagious. If you can learn to laugh more and see the humor in situations, you can most likely help others around you to realize these benefits as well.
  • Even spiritually, we are reminded that “A Merry heart doeth good like medicine.”

Knowing all of this, begin your joke and joy journals, and make it a point to laugh, laugh, laugh – especially when the joke is on you!

Read more posts by Debra Peppers, Ph.D., here. Dr. Peppers blogs for JenningsWire.

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