Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / Have a good laugh

Marjorie Spitz Rento7 Comments

I got in a taxi yesterday and there were Chuckles in the door handle. Remember Chuckles, those jelly candies coated with sugar?  I didn’t even realize they were still around.  Gosh you wouldn’t believe the ingredient list – not one redeeming quality about it!  Except for, well they kind of made me chuckle.

Even the word “chuckle” is such a happy, funny and odd word.   By definition, it means to “laugh softly or amusedly, usually with satisfaction.”   Yes, I did that!

Late last week, a friend told me she was about to undergo treatment for breast cancer.    She made sure to tell me it was a common diagnosis so as not to worry me too much.  She was worried about me – I could hear it in her voice.  She had an amazing attitude, was clear about her treatment (thank goodness it has a very successful track record), and surrounded herself with a wonderful supportive circle (MOJO Makers #12).  I immediately gravitated to conversation in the light-hearted humor that comes with embracing a dear friend in a difficult moment.   We both did – what else could you do in a situation like that?  It got me thinking about the role of humor in life.

It’s been discovered that even chimps and primates laugh, and it’s one of the first responses newborns have.  Favorite Superbowl commercial?  Likely it’s a funny one!   

Having a good laugh isn’t only fun, it’s shown to be beneficial to your overall health and well-being.  It’s commonly known to help people cope with stress and adversity, as well as to strengthen the body’s immune system.  The release literally decreases the stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.  Experiencing humor triggers endorphins, “the body’s natural feel-good hormones” and thus “promotes an overall sense of well-being and temporarily relieves pain.”  Ever visit someone ill and have their loved one tell you afterwards it was the first time they saw the person smile?  You’ve brought some levity to their life and raised their spirits, and their body responded with good cheer.  As they say “laughter is the best medicine.”

Physically, laughter is shown to improve circulation -- the function of blood vessels improves and increases blood flow, which can help protect against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

There’s even a Laughter Yoga movement where group classes practice prolonged voluntary laughter by making eye contact and promoting playfulness between participants. You can imagine how contagious it becomes once it starts!

In addition to the psychological and physical, the social benefits of humor are well known.  That class clown?  Often well remembered and accepted!  GSOH (good sense of humor) is apparently a well-known acronym on dating sites.  How many times during your dating years did you hear a friend say, “I’m looking for a partner with a good sense of humor?”

A recent Forbes article cites the importance of (tasteful) humor in success at the work place.  They list 10 reasons why it improves success, including building trust and morale, and creating an enjoyable and less stressful work environment (among other things).  

Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert, says, “Humor demonstrates ‘maturity and the ability to see the forest through the trees.’ You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian, she adds, ‘but well-placed humor that is clever and apropos to a business situation always enhances an employee’s career.”

As Dwight Eisenhower said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”  

And humor smooth’s over an uncomfortable or difficult situation, like it did with my friend and me.  

So today, get out there and do something silly.  Make someone laugh.  You will be improving their health and strengthening your relationships.  If you just need a laugh yourself, go read or watch something funny, or call a friend with a GSOH.

And go feel those breasts of yours (men and women!) or have someone do it for you.  Self-examination is the key to getting to know your body, so you can notice when anything changes (and thus might be an issue).  Have fun with it and laugh all your way to good health.   Just stay away from those candy Chuckles.

With good humor,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™

P.S.  For a great resource, go to selfchec.org.