How long has it been since you had a good laugh - not just a chuckle, but a real belly laugh? Remember how good it felt? It probably made you feel invigorated and renewed. Laughing causes the brain to fill every cell in the body with endorphin peptides, the body's natural morphine. It stimulates the immune system and helps the body fight off disease and reduce or eliminate pain. According to many medical experts, laughter is truly penicillin for the soul. At the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Brookline, MA, which offers stress reduction programs for the business community, humor is taken seriously. `From 60 to 90 percent of visits to physicians' offices are related to stress disorders,` said Marilyn Wilcher, the Institute's director. `Humor is one of the coping skills we use in our workshops to help patients deal with their medical conditions.` Institute workshops stress a positive attitude, uncompromising faith and a serious sense of humor as keys to good health and well being,` Wilcher added. Let's face it; we live in a pretty stressful world. We grind away all day at work to please our customers, our bosses and ourselves. Our competitive spirit challenges us to accomplish as much as possible in the shortest period of time. Trying to meet unrealistic project deadlines and dealing with company politics adds to our stress level. Trying to balance work and family obligations pulls us in many directions. We need energy and stamina to handle these challenges, and how we handle them affects how we look and feel. Smiling, happy people tend to look fresh and healthy. Ever wonder how they manage it? Here are a few suggestions for putting on a happy face:
  • Think funny thoughts and smile.
  • Collect cartoons from the newspaper and share them with co-workers.
  • Tell jokes that won't offend anyone.
  • Watch silly, slapstick comedy shows on TV and rent Laurel and Hardy, Three Stooges and Marx Brothers videos.
  • The next time you're in a traffic jam, put on a pair of Groucho glasses or one of those bug red clown noses. Take a look at yourself in the rear view mirror and have a good laugh.
That big smile on your face will not only keep you pumped up, but it will also make others curious about what's in your morning coffee. I once had a terminally professional boss who asked me, `What's so funny?` when I showed up for one of those serious business meetings wearing a smile. The poor soul didn't know what he was missing until I bought him his own pair or Groucho glasses. Believe it or not, it worked - he smiled. There will always be stress and traffic jams. Also rising prices, lower take-home pay, higher taxes and sad stories on the six o'clock new. If we take all this negative stuff seriously, it could make us sick. So why not try to lighten up? Sigmund Freud once said humor was needed to offset `the distressing effects that interfere with our pleasures.` Make Twain put it this way: `Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.` So, make room in your life for laughter. Copyright © 1995, Vic Marcus • 508.435.0220 • Toll-Free 866.231.0100
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