A gentle reminder: Subscribers receiving this in your email can comment by clicking on the post’s title which takes you online to the web post. Scroll to the end of the post.
Can laughter help heal you? Some say it does, Patients treat serious illness as a laughing matter.
In 1980, I read Norman Cousins’ book, Anatomy of an Illness as perceived by the patient — Reflections on Healing and Regeneration, while recovering from my first major MS attack. Cousins, not a quack but a well respected writer, described how he recovered from a life-threating illness with vitamins and laughter.
I was a convert – if laughter could get me better, sign me up. But I couldn’t say it helped heal that episode or keep others away.
At RX laughter, they’re exploring how entertainment might be of value to ill patients. ” … continually strives to help children, adults and their family members who are suffering from the effects of physical and mental illness by prescribing comic entertainment, primarily funny films and television shows, as an important part of treatment care.”
The World Laughter Tour trains and certifies leaders to deliver laughter in hospital settings. One hospital wants to try the therapy with lung transplant patients because laughter allows more oxygen to move through the body.
I don’t know for sure, but my hunch is that comedy and laughs are more successful for acute health episodes — where life literally stops as the patient gets treatment and over a period of time tries to get better.
But what about when you’re dealing with chronic illness? It creeps up when you’re not looking and leaves just as unexpectedly. What do you do to keep yourself “open” to the “ha ha” emotion ? A life with Groucho Marx by your side?
If you read my blogs, you know that I believe in the power of work to keep us healthy. I believe that you’ll stay healthier when you stay emotionally engaged in something that’s beyond your illness.
I’ve found that distraction creates lightness and space in my life even when my body “contracts”. Sure I have many distractions and healing practices that engage me. But what’s consistently worked for me over 30 years has been work.
Here’s one example. This past week, I was in an important business meeting when my ileostomy leaked. Even though this, happens periodically and I’m “used” to it, it can be pretty upsetting. I didn’t want to interrupt the meeting so I had to wait until it was over to get to a bathroom. Fortunately, it was contained and I went on with my day.
I didn’t think about that incident until I was wrote this article. At the time, I was too busy and excited with ideas from our discussion.
I wish I didn’t live with an ileostomy — or a bad bladder — or poor balance. But I do along with other health problems, big and small. Distraction and engagement keeps me going. Interacting with others brings me out of myself and away from whatever is going wrong in my body.
I know that these things aren’t going away. All I can do is continue to be more than the limits of my body.
And now, how about a good laugh?
P.S. – Check out Laurie Edwards submission to Grand Rounds – the best of bloggers’ post, rated by the bloggers themselves.