Humor & Laughter: Your Body’s Superhero
It’s like Wonder Woman. Evidence consistently suggests that negative emotion, such as anger, depression and anxiety takes its toll on the body. But until 30 years ago, the effects of positive emotion hadn’t been explored. Thanks to recent research, we have discovered that positive emotion, such as laughter or humor, promotes your body’s health and wellbeing, serving as your body’s own superhero.
Dr. Paul McGhee, president of The Laughter Remedy, featuring the latest research on health, resilience, happiness and improving one’s sense of humor, thinks that the Wonder Woman analogy works to describe the relationship between the body and humor.
“Early comics had Wonder Woman with her bracelets, knocking away bullets and other stuff,” McGhee said. “Your sense of humor is sort of like that. It’s a tool that helps you deflect all the negative stuff that’s going on and substitute a negative emotion for a positive one.”
McGhee cites The Anatomy of an Illness, a book written by Norman Cousins in 1979, as the start to the craze on research on laughter and humor. Cousins was a patient with a degenerative spinal condition who used humor, specifically episodes of Candid Camera, a practical joke reality television series featuring hidden cameras, to reduce his pain.
“It was like the Sputnik of mind, body and medicine,” McGhee said. “It stimulated a lot of interest – we’re not doing enough to create strong scientific minds in this country.”