Staying Healthy With Humor

One of the world’s most potent health supplements is available without a prescription … and it’s totally free. Laughter won’t cure your disease, but numerous studies attest to the health benefits of humor.

Dr. William Fry, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford Medical School, has been studying the relationship between humor and health for some 35 years.

Recent research also indicates that laughter may boost the immune system and help the body fight off disease and infection. In 1996, Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University in California reported that laughter increased production of certain cells and substances in the immune system that help the body fight against cancer cells as well as viral, bacterial and other infections.

Humor is a valuable tool for people who are facing serious illness and medical treatment. Fry says it helps them cope with the fear, anger and depression that often accompany illness. Some hospitals provide humor therapy in the form of books, videos or even clowns to help patients relax and develop the positive attitude that can make such a big difference in their medical outcomes.

Again, we are not talking about a miracle cure. Sometimes humor pries open the door just enough to ease the fear and depression that may impede the progress of a person’s recovery.

Even when you are not sick, humor can help offset the destructive effects of negative emotions and stress in everyday life. At work, on the highway or at times of interpersonal conflict, Fry says a little buffoonery can go a long way.

“Humor is a conflict resolution mechanism. And if there’s conflict or antagonism that develops between people, humor is a universal solvent. In other words, it dissolves the issues of conflict.”

So! In the spirit of laughter and good health, here’s a little doctor joke:

Patient: “Doctor, are you sure I’m suffering from pneumonia? I had a friend who was treated for pneumonia and he died of typhus.”

Doctor: “Don’t worry, I won’t make that mistake. If I treat someone with pneumonia, he will die of pneumonia.”

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