Monday, August 10, 2020

Be Careful? Or Be Cheerful?

A doctor gave a 92-year-old man a physical exam. A few days later he happened to notice the man walking down the street with his arm around a gorgeous young woman and grinning from ear to ear. 

The next time he encountered the man, the doctor said, “You are really doing great, aren’t you?”

“Just doing what you said, Doc,” the man agreed. “You said, ‘Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.’”

“I didn’t say that,” replied the doctor. “I said you got a heart murmur. And be careful.”

I wonder if the advice to be cheerful may actually do him more good than to be careful. There is no shortage of self-help books and articles about taking care of yourself physically – from watching your diet to getting proper exercise. In other words, “Be careful!” But just as necessary is learning how to care for your mind and spirit. And cultivating a cheerful attitude can be an important part of the treatment.

You’re no doubt familiar with some of the research linking a healthy sense of humor, and especially laughter, to overall better health. Researchers now know that:

  • Laughter reduces stress hormone levels so we feel less stressed.
  • It enhances our immunity by improving our mood. Our immune system is stronger on those "up" days and we are less prone to upper respiratory infections.
  • Laughter causes us to breathe more fully, bringing in more oxygen and releasing toxins.
  • After a good laugh our blood pressure drops, heart rate and breathing slow down and muscle tension decreases.
  • Even in stressful times, humor and good cheer help us to find joy. As you know, joy and stress just don’t mix.
  • Also, they are learning that laughter increases productivity and creativity.
  • It helps our muscles to relax. This natural relaxation effect not only reduces stress but it also has been shown to alleviate headaches, chronic anxiety and other stress-related problems.
  • Laughter reduces pain in the chronically ill. Norman Cousins, in his book Head First: The Biology of Hope, noticed that ten minutes of belly laughter often gave him two hours of pain-free sleep.
  • In fact, it is said that a good belly laugh is so good for the heart some people liken it to internal jogging.

Do you tend to focus on what is wrong with your life, or what is right? Are you known as an angry person, or are you known more for being up-beat and positive? Are you finding enough laughter and humor every day?

Sometimes I think the best sense we can make of life is a sense of humor.

--Steve Goodier

Image: Wong