laughter-infographicFrom the series: Life on Dog Hill

One of my sons recently informed me that he sees a female gynecologist when he’s not feeling well. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. A belly-ripping laugh that, undoubtedly, added at least a week to my life.

Wait, are you scowling?

It just so happened that last semester after my son battled chronic cough, sore throat, and a multitude of other things he finally made an appointment to see a doctor at the campus clinic. He liked the doctor he saw and soon began feeling better. But when his symptoms returned a month later, he called to make an appointment and learned that the doctor he liked so much was a “woman’s doctor.”

“Can I make an appointment with her anyway?” my son asked, indifferent to the GYN designation.

“Uh, I guess so,” came the hesitant response from the man on the other end of the line.

During his next appointment, he explained that he didn’t want to jump from physician to physician and asked if it was okay to make appointments with her even though she was a gynecologist. Much to his relief, she told him not to worry. And that’s how my son came to have a gynecologist as his physician.

Here’s the problem. People get so bent out of shape when things don’t sound “right.” They fidget and become uncomfortable. Clearly they have NO sense of humor, which, of course, is too darn bad. My son has reported some rather awkward reactions when people hear that his regular school doctor is a gynecologist.

As for me, I laugh often and believe that laughter only adds to my sense of joyful living. In fact, there’s lots of data to suggest that laughing not only makes you healthier, it also contributes to a longer life.

Here’s my Google proof:

Screenshot 2014-02-18 17.22.27

As you can see from the screen shot, I didn’t even have to finish typing the word before the results popped up. Health benefits from laughing include:

• lowers stress and blood pressure
• oxygenates the brain creating alertness and energy
• enhances immune system
• releases endorphins in the brain for better mood

One of the best Ted Talks I’ve seen initially had me skeptical. Presented by video gamer Jane McGonigal, she promised listeners she could add ten years to their lives. In fact, she claimed that just listening to her 19:30 minute talk would add seven and a half minutes to listeners’ lives. I highly recommend tuning in for her talk and not just for the increased life span. Ms. McGonigal makes a very convincing argument for not taking life so seriously and the importance of playing, laughing, and finding what makes you happy.

Not convinced? Did you know that in 1995 Dr Madan Kataria started what he called “laughter yoga” in India consisting of gentle yoga breathing, stretching, and simulated unconditional laughter. What happens is that simulated group laughter becomes genuine; how can it not given how silly everyone must look! Since its inception, laughter yoga has become an international tee-hee with free laughing groups popping up all over the world.

At the Laughter Yoga website, you can find laughing groups near you. And, if there isn’t one they tell you how to start one! I was quite surprised to find two groups near my home. Fortunately for me, I already know how to laugh — even when the circumstances may call for more decorum.

Additional Laughter Resources:

Give Your Body a Boost: With Laughter (from WebMd)

Stress Relief from Laughter: It’s No Joke! (from the Mayo Clinic)

Header image found here.

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