"Laughter is the best medicine... unless you're asthmatic - then it's 'Ventolin'."
An old joke I know, and as an asthmatic, I have to say it's got a ring of truth to it...
If only there was such a thing as a 'Laughter Inhaler' - comic relief at the touch of a button!
Hopefully this site of mine will be the next best thing.
What is Humour Therapy?
Humour therapy is the term given to a therapeutic process which claims beneficial effects from the use of positive emotions associated with laughter.
Although used throughout history, interest in humour therapy is seen generally to have originated in the 1970s in America when Norman Cousins detailed his experiences in overcoming a serious chronic disease (ankylosing spondylitis - a form of arthritis) by laughing at favourite comedy shows such as ‘Candid Camera’ and ’Marx Brothers’ films (he stated that ten minutes of laughing gave him two hours of drug-free pain relief).
Research has shown that laughing can help in:
Biblical Times: The benefits of humour makes an appearance in the Good Book itself: The Book Of Proverbs 17:22 states ‘A cheerful heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit makes one sick’.
14th Century: French surgeon Henri de Mondeville used humour therapy to aid recovery from surgery. He wrote "Let the surgeon take care to regulate the whole regimen of the patient's life for joy and happiness, allowing his relatives and special friends to cheer him and by having someone tell him jokes."
16th Century: Robert Burton, an English parson and scholar used humour as a cure for melancholy.
16th Century: Martin Luther used a form of humour therapy as part of his pastoral counselling of depressed people. He advised them not to isolate themselves but to surround themselves with friends who could joke and make them laugh.
17th Century: Herbert Spencer, sociologist used humour as a way to release excess tension.
18th Century: Immanuel Kant, Germany philosopher used humour to restore equilibrium.
18th Century: English physician William Battie used humour in treatment of the sick.
20th Century: Modern humour therapy dates from the 1930s, when clowns were brought into U.S. hospitals to cheer up children hospitalised with polio.
20th Century - 1972: The Gesundheit Institute is founded by U.S. Doctor Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams: this is a home-based free hospital ‘to bring fun, friendship, and the joy of service back into health care’.
20th Century - 1979: Norman Cousins publishes his book ‘Anatomy of an Illness’ based on his own experiences: he had been suffering from ankylosing spondylitis and decided to use his own brand of ‘humour therapy’ by watching episodes of the television show ‘Candid Camera’ and Marx Brothers films. He claimed that ten minutes of laughter could give him two hours of pain relief.
20th Century - 1998: Renewed interest in the uses of humour as therapy thanks to the release of the film ‘Patch Adams’ starring Robin Williams and based on the real Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams.
Well, now we are in the 21st Century we have a new term for these 'modern times' - lol!
'lol' is an acronym for 'laughs out loud' or 'laughing out loud', and is commonly used to emote another user in text messaging, emails, 'Messenger' communication and Chatrooms.
So we may type 'lol', but do we actually do it? I myself type this in regularly when replying to posts in online forums, but have to confess it's more the result of a 'wry smile' than a full 'laugh out loud'!
To me, 'lol Therapy' is finding something that you know makes you laugh... be it a book or a comedy show etc. that you enjoy, and setting some time aside to indulge yourself.
I've been incorporating this into my daily routine: for me, it's watching approximately 30 mins. of comedy each morning before I set off for work (e.g. 'Family Guy', 'The Office', 'Phoenix Nights', 'Laurel & Hardy').
Since doing this I have felt that it 'sets me up' for the day, i.e. keeps me in good humour and therefore I feel that it has definite therapeutic value.
"All well and good but what's your mood usually like?" you may ask.
I will openly admit, I can be prone to anxiety and low mood and therefore feel that 'lol Therapy' has helped me immensely... I also use this method in the evenings when I feel it necessary to help me 'wind-down'.
I'm not suggesting that this will work for everyone and am sure that there will be times when it will be of little benefit, but I'd be interested to know if/how it works for others.
It might not be on prescription, but it works for me!
Reflection can be great to help us laugh at situations we've been in in the past: although we did not find them funny at the time, when we look back at the absurdity of a situation it can be a great source of humour.
All well and good saying that... but what about an example.
Here's a classic that is now legend amongst friends, family, folk I work with and fellow students... my accidental trip to London.
I laugh heartily now folks, but believe me - at the time I was practically climbing the walls!
Happened 1st September 2003
Okay, anyone want a laugh at my expense? Here's an account of what happened to me yesterday.
I catch the 08:04 train to Preston.
Off to the jolly old University for improving myself, y'know.
At dinner, I take me big tupperware tub of cornflakes to the canteen and they have no milk left... instead I opt for the 'Low Flavour Happy Meal' (i.e. a bowl of rice with nothing else - didn't want anything stodgy).
More learning stuff.
At 16:20 I jump on the train.
about 12 mins. after that, I noticed the station I wanted to stop at go zooming past me at about 90 miles an hour!
And then am informed that the train is none stop to London Euston!
So what happened?
I only had £1.05 on me. Hardly any battery power left on the mobile etc.
The train manager obviously recognised me for a fool rather than a con man, and when we got to London, he got me on a train back 3 minutes later.
Time back home? 22:20!
Knackered, feeling like a cretin, starving I came home wanting to make a toast butty - unfortunately, Mrs. B had been out to feed the ducks so there was no bread.
I ate some cold beans, sat and watched telly with me doggies (can't remember what they were watching) then went to bed.
As you know, I fancy meself as a bit of a comedian - and with tricks like this in me repertoire I think I am getting there!
Still - how many people do you know make three trips by rail and go to yer capital for only £4.60 (all right... I never got to see any of it, but at least I went!)
I knew that this would soon spread round like wildfire, so I decided to 'joke it up' a little, and wrote that account which I posted on a few sites.
One thing I find is that it has therapeutic value in sharing the joke... other people get to have a laugh, plus some have had similar experiences - the 'me too' aspect of it just goes to show how anyone can make a mistake, and thus makes me feel less foolish.
It can be great to bring up in conversations when people tell me that they've got lost or something similar...
"You think that's bad... what about this..."
I find it can be an excellent icebreaker and helps develop a rapport.
What do you think?
What are they?
For me, they are films that you can watch when you're not feeling in the best of moods, but afterwards 'feel good' at having seen them.
My particular favourite 'FeelGood Film' is 'Groundhog Day'.
Here's a brief synopsis:
Bill Murray is at his wisecracking best in this riotous romantic comedy about a weatherman caught in a personal time warp on the worst day of his life!
Teamed with a relentlessly cheery producer (Andie MacDowell) and a smart aleck cameraman, TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities. On his way out of town, Phil is caught in a giant blizzard - which he himself actually failed to predict - and finds himself stuck in a small town hell.
Just when things couldn't get worse, they do! Phil wakes the next morning to find that it's Groundhog Day all over again. And again. And again. During the recurring 24 hour nightmare, Phil starts to realise that he can also use it to his advantage; to re-write the events of his day, and to generally have a whale of a time. But manipulating his day to capture the one woman he really wants is not quite so easy...
This is a brilliant film... the character starts of as scheming and self-centred, and becomes a caring and compassionate human being by the end.
YES it's schmaltzy...
YES Bill Murray looks smug practically 99% of the time... not a favourite actor of mine but he is excellently cast in this role!
A truly great film with some genuine heart-tugging moments (such as the old man who dies, and can't be saved no matter how many times Phil tries).
For me, this is great therapy and available without prescription!
Close the curtains, switch the 'phone off and settle down to a film that you know you're going to enjoy!
Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.
Laughter is part of the human survival kit.
The best blush to use is laughter: It put roses in your cheeks and in your soul.
At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.
Laughter is the most healthful exertion.
Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland
One can never speak enough of the virtues, the dangers, the power of shared laughter.
Seven days without laughter make one weak.
The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
Laughter is an instant vacation.
Laughter isn't always appropriate... I got sacked from my last job for laughing: mind you, I was driving the hearse at the time!
Neil Baxter (trying to be funny)