In the medicinal world, top researchers are always trying to find new ways to cure diseases. Whether it’s more cost-effective or time-sensitive, there is always research being done to improve or create medicine all over the world. Yet, what if there was a way to cure both physical and mental conditions that didn’t require any money and everyone could get access too? Well, there already is; laughter. The age-old saying “laughter is the best medicine” is, in fact, true to its word.
To identify if laughter truly is the best medicine, we must get an idea of what happens to our bodies when we laugh. Luckily, Rod Martin goes over this extensively in his journal article Is Laughter the Best Medicine? Humor, Laughter, and Physical Health. His first example reveals that “laughter might produce physiological changes in various systems of the body, which may have beneficial effects on health.” This includes how it “relaxes muscles, improves respiration, stimulates circulation, increases the production of pain-killing endorphins, decreases the production of stress-related hormones, and enhances immunity.” If these are just some of the physiological changes, one can only imagine how many other influences it has without us knowing.
Humor can be used to diffuse a situation and turn it from negative to positive. When the embarrassing action or traumatizing event becomes the focal point of a joke, it creates a better sense of understanding and moving on from these experiences. Todd McGowan reiterates this in Only a Joke Can Save Us, explaining “In order to experience comedy even in trauma, we must experience the trauma from a distance and simultaneously identify ourselves with the traumatized subject.” If we don’t look at things through a positive lens, it can have a long-term effect on our mental health. With this mental block of negativity holding us back, it prevents us from really getting the most out of life. For students especially, negativity would limit them from doing their best in school and maybe even having a social life. Yet, humor helps in that sense too. We fuel each other’s humor by making one another laugh. Rod Martin explains that “humor may indirectly benefit health by increasing one’s level of social support. Individuals with a good sense of humor may be more socially competent and better able to reduce tensions and conflicts in relationships” A positive outlook accompanied by a good sense of humor can allow us to flourish in society. We are already very social animals so adding laughter to the equation will only increase our compatibility and decrease our negativism.
Laughter can even reach lengths that are very unexpected. Take Bryanne Patail as a prime example of this. As a medical technology professional, he actively “deals with patient deaths and injuries caused by medical error or device malfunction.” Yet, he still finds a way to incorporate humor into his seemingly mundane job. This emphasis on humor in the workplace is able to set a great standard for positive mental health. Bob Stiefel, the director of a clinical engineering department, agrees “adding that humor can also be used to reinvigorate people trying to resolve a knotty issue.” With too much seriousness among companies, it can cause these workers to lose interest in their job and potentially not perform as well. There needs to be a sense of lightheartedness among coworkers to establish better connections and this can easily be done through inside jokes or funny moments. Stiefel also puts out there that “You definitely don’t want to be joking around in front of patients and visitors. They need to know you take your work seriously.” Although this puts some restraints on the lengths that humor is able to go, it is for the best because if there is excessive joking around, then nothing would get done. Like medicine, you don’t want to be laughing too much. But using it to get some work done in the workplace is generally a morale booster. Humor in appropriate doses allows us to turn mundane experiences into uplifting and less forgettable ones. This, in turn, can keep us focused on tasks at hand by joking about them or even giving us a quick break after working on it too much. This is why humor in our workplaces is crucial and has more impact than most people generally think.
With the various examples listed above, it can be proven now that the saying “laughter is the best medicine” can truthfully be applied within our society. No longer is it just a saying that conveys that we should stay positive during times where we need medicine. Now, not only is there plenty of proof researched on this topic, but those who might have doubted this information or not known it can put it into use. Whenever someone is physically or mentally ill, someone who knows this information is now more likely to use laughter to aid them in the recovery process. People can even use the information found throughout this paper to use in their day to day lives. When unwanted stress forms or when something small but negative happens, if people remember to either make a joke out of their situation or find something to laugh at, they’re more likely to overcome that negativity, leaving us healthier and happier in the process.