For those who are just now discovering that April is National Humor Month, don’t worry - you still have time to catch up. Even better, you have a lifetime to experience the health benefits of a cheerful outlook.
According to the National Humor Month web site, the purpose of this annual focus on humor is “to heighten public awareness on how the joy and therapeutic value of laughter can improve health, boost morale, increase communication skills and enrich the quality of one's life.”
Although researchers are still figuring out exactly how and why a belly laugh might relieve a bellyache, there’s plenty of evidence to indicate that even a modest shift in thought from despondence to delight can have a positive and measurable impact on your body.
Just as it did for Dr. Madan Kataria.
Since 1995, when he started his first “laughter club” in India, Dr. Kataria has been preaching the merits of mirth to anyone and everyone who will listen. Over the years he’s found that even artificially-induced laughter can help relax muscles, lower blood pressure, improve blood circulation, increase oxygen levels, and boost your immune system – what many consider to be the “master key” to good health.
Apparently his message is getting around. Today there are more than 6,000 such clubs in at least 60 countries, delivering a healthy dose of laughter to untold numbers of people facing a wide variety of mental and physical troubles.
Here in California the folks involved with the Medical Clown Project (MCP) are seeing similar results. Founded by former Cirque Du Soleil clown, Jeffrey Raz, the entertainers at MCP, working in conjunction with the Institute for Health & Healing at California Pacific Medical Center, inject a therapeutic blend of music, comedy, and dance into a variety of hospital environments including patient rooms, intensive care units, mental health wards, even in hallways and elevators. The intent is to reduce the anxiety – and improve the health – of patients and health care providers alike.
Now if only they could figure out how to put joy into a capsule. Continue reading…
Eric Nelson is a Los Altos resident. This article is shared with permission by Communities @WashingtonTimes.com.