The Vine, Spring 2023

Laughter really is the best medicine

I was trying to remember the other day the last time I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. Even though I have been taking Prevagen — extra strength, at that — I could not remember. So, I think it is safe to say over a few months ago.  

When I was kid, I laughed at just about anything. A weird noise, a stupid joke, or even the dog doing something it should not have been doing in the house. You know what I mean about the dog, don’t you? My mother would tell me to knock it off, that the neighbors might start talking about me. I thought to myself, maybe they need to laugh a little more themselves.

It is said that a kid laughs over 300 times a day and that most adults struggle to get 15 chuckles or snorts out. I realize that as we grow older life seems to get in the way, but come on now, we all need a good laughing jag, don’t we? 

Can a giggle a day keep the doctor at bay? When we laugh our body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins can help with chronic pain, improve mood and reduce stress. Laughing also increases our intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulating our heart, lungs and muscles. While negative thoughts can manifest into chemical reactions, decreasing our immunity, positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that relieve stress and potentially more serious illnesses. Laughter can help cope with difficult situations and improve our ability to connect with other people.  

If you are struggling with your sense of humor, try watching a funny video or an old sitcom, or go online and download some knock-knock jokes — clean or dirty! This past summer, a good friend sent me a video of someone breaking wind — yes, you know what I mean! I lost it. I could not breathe for five minutes and, like a nut, I kept watching it over and over again. I refuse to delete it from my phone; it is hysterical. 

So, if you are having a bad night, put on some music and break out some of your old dance moves (or invent new ones). Learn some simple stupid jokes and share them with someone. Go to a comedy club — or give me a call, and I will send you that video! 

I must admit, our family does a fair amount of laughing. This past Christmas we went to my son and daughter-in-law’s house to celebrate. We were slowly opening our gifts one at a time and sharing them as we went. We had just finished opening the last of our gifts when my daughter-in-law screamed, “Wait, I forgot, there is one more gift for you!” She walked out of the room and paraded back in with what looked like a very nicely wrapped wine bottle. She handed it to me and started laughing hysterically. I turned to her and said, “What the heck is going on here?” She said, “Open it!.”

I pulled a bottle of wine from the wrapping. It was half full, with a cork stuck loosely in the end. I said, “What the h-ll is this,” as well as a few more expletives. The room went wild with laughter as she said, “Do you remember the other night when I called you about this bottle of wine?” I said, “You mean the one you could not stand?” She said, “Yes, that one. So here it is. You can have the rest of it!” 

I reminded her that I had suggested she dump it down the drain, but it was too late. The whole room was in tears! It was a Merry Christmas after all. 

There are a couple of takeaways. The first is, I cannot wait until her birthday; it is going to be a doozy. The second is never give Rod Michael a half-bottle of wine; I have a lot of stress that I need to get rid of!

Laughter is the best medicine. Go on, give it a try, even if the joke is on you!

Laughing cartoon faces photo: Fabian Mollaretti.

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