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The Healing Benefits of Laughter

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By Erica Sofrina

‘Laughter is the shortest distance between two people‘ -  Victor Borge

‘If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy‘ – Robert Holden, founder of Brittan’s first Laughter Clinic

I found out a sad fact recently: children laugh on average 400-500 times per day and adults around 18 times. The depressing part was my own realization that I can go days without laughing at all. Something I intend to make a point of changing so I started a new group called the  30 Day Laughter Challenge.

The fact is that laughter is powerful medicine. Norman Cousins demonstrated this back in the 1970s with his revolutionary book Anatomy of an Illness, considered to have been the beginning of the mind-body revolution.

After being told that he had little chance of surviving a devastating illness, he developed a recovery program incorporating mega doses of vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by his beloved Marx Brother films. “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,” he reported. “When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval.”

I thought about one of my peak memories as a young adult around laughter and how it transformed an otherwise grim situation.

On the eve of my grandmother’s breast cancer surgery our large family packed into her hospital room for support. The prognosis didn’t look good and being in completely foreign territory we didn’t know what to say or do.

With the flawless instincts of a child, my brother’s eight-year-old step son had brought his most beloved joke book to read. We were politely trying to discourage him but our grandmother pronounced this a splendid idea, inviting him to climb up and read to us. Totally enthralled by this captive audience, he delivered each joke gem like a trainer feeding fish delicacies to his pet seals.

The situation was so absurd and the jokes so corny before long we were all belly laughing, my grandmother leading the charge. Timmy looking absolutely triumphant that his great book had been such a huge hit! I will never forget the look on the  nurses face when she entered what I am sure sounded like a lunatic asylum.  And, my grandmother came through it all just fine and went on to torture us for many more years to come :)

Research has shown that laughter can actually alter our perception. What before might have seemed impossible can become possible.*

Its transformative powers are presented in this wonderful YouTube video.  A man enters a dreary subway car with a big smile on his face.  Everyone is looking exhausted, the gnawing boredom of having to do this day after day evidenced in their sagging  shoulders. He begins chuckling to himself as if he can’t suppress a funny memory. Passengers begin looking around curiously. He moves to a full out laugh then to guffawing uncontrollably. His fellow passengers moving from annoyance to curiosity, to embarrassment, then to suppressing a chuckling and finally to full out belly laughs. Once he gets the entire car going he stops and lets them continue on their own. A triumphant grin spreading across his face.

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Read more: Alternative Therapies, Fitness, General Health, Guidance, Health, Healthy Aging, Inspiration, Mental Wellness, Self-Help, Spirit, Yoga, , , , , , ,

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Erica Sofrina

Erica Sofrina is an Internationally recognized Speaker and Teacher and Author of the book Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World. She is also a life coach and motivational speaker and is the founder of the West Coast Academy of Feng Shui. She has run a successful business as a Professional Organizer, Interior Designer and Certified Feng Shui Consultant for over a decade and resides on the charming coastal town of Half Moon Bay in Northern California. Find out more at

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+ add your own
2:36PM PDT on Jun 18, 2013


4:19AM PDT on May 15, 2013

IT's the best medication

1:54AM PDT on Apr 24, 2013

Thank you.

2:47PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard at the video - what a great break from the stress of my day! I'm going to get a group together to do the 30 day challenge for sure and hope it sticks with me for the rest of my life.

2:14AM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

thanks, hahahaha

7:24PM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

Sorry, Andy Kadir-Buxton, I was stunned at your suggestion. "The second way to achieve hysterical laughter is to blow one lung full of cigarette smoke into a party balloon, and then to hyperventilate with the balloon. Again laughter ensues and you feel much better for the experience. Both of these methods of improving emotional well being are legal at the moment"

Thus the previous post.

I agree, laughter is the healthiest thing anyone can have in their lives, but with two healthy lungs, please!

7:21PM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

'Blowing one lung full of cigarette smoke in a party balloon, and then hyperventilate with the balloon and laughter ensues'????

And the other lung just hangs out not getting the joke?

1:07PM PDT on Jul 26, 2011


5:14AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Laughter is good for the heart....thanks for the article...

6:13PM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

I Love to Laugh & be around People who DO Laugh and have a Great sense of humor!! So, many People nowadays are too Serious about Life in General - that's 'why' they're Stressed Out!! Easy to Laugh when You're around someone who has that unique sense of humor ALWAYS!! Remember - LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE!!! Works for Me!! ;-)

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