prescription for laughter

Daily activities often include walking the dog, checking your email, watering the plants, and tidying up. But don’t forget to brighten your mood by adding a touch of humor to each and every day.

The concept of laughter has been essential to the overall wellbeing of humans throughout history: from court jesters entertaining royalty in their drafty castles to vaudeville performers such as the Marx Brothers bringing their brand of humor to early motion pictures. The inventors of the Whoopie Cushion and the rubber chicken made humor accessible to the masses because laughter makes us feel good!

If laughter is the best medicine, there are several ways to fill that prescription and keep your spirits up on a daily basis.

Bring the Funny!
Now, more than ever, we need to add a daily dose of whimsy to our lives. From your first morning cup of coffee or tea in a comical mug to a drawer full of colorful patterned socks, we can sprinkle levity into every day. If you put on a silly T-shirt or a wacky pair of earrings (cows, dice, feathers), you will start your day with a smile.

Why not use a fun pen to write that to-do list? Dress up your cat, use cookie cutters to give your lunchtime sandwich a playful touch, or place cheerful magnets on refrigerator doors to give yourself a reason to chuckle. (One of my favorites – I never met a chocolate I didn’t like!)

Thanks, I needed that!
Laughter is good for your mind, body and soul. Scientists have studied the benefits of laughter. It increases the release of endorphins in the brain, boosts the immune system, improves blood flow and circulation, and promotes a positive mood. A hearty laugh relieves physical tension and relaxes muscles for up to 45 minutes. That one simple guffaw, chuckle or giggle is good for your emotional and physical health and wellbeing!

We schedule errands, laundry, doctor appointments, paying bills and exercise each day. It’s important to also make room for laughter in our daily schedules. Flip through The New Yorker cartoons or find and read a humorous personal essay on your computer after breakfast or before bed.

Turn on the TV and give yourself a half-hour comedy break by watching classic sitcoms like Seinfeld, Friends, The King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, Will & Grace, Cheers or Frasier. Classic “Britcoms” including Keeping Up Appearances, Miranda and As Time Goes By might be your cup of tea. Just one “Hah!” in a 30-minute episode can release those feel-good endorphins and boost your mood for the rest of the day.

Comedy 101
Schedule time each week to watch a movie comedy (on cable, streaming or DVD). We all have our favorites including classic funny movies like Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Ghostbusters, School of Rock, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

William V. Costanzo, Professor of English and Film at Westchester Community College and the author of seven books, including When the World Laughs – Film Comedy East and West, has studied what makes people laugh. “Laughter brings people together,” says Professor Costanzo. “People turn to comedy for comfort and connection.”

Of course, you can also watch stand-up comedy specials on Netflix or YouTube. Plan a Friday night comedy fest to end each week on a humorous note. Why not discover your inner comedian and sign up for an online comedy/improv class? Croton Academy of Arts offers online improv comedy classes where you can learn to hone your comedy “chops” and add hilarity to your week from the comfort of your home!

So go ahead, grin in the mirror, chortle at your pet’s antics, email jokes to a friend, wear a silly hat, watch a zany movie, practice your witty repartee in a comedy class, and laugh every day. It’s good for you!

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