Laughter therapy – good, for good

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This blog is another opportunity to feel grateful and thank you dear Universe: You continue to bless me with recovery and overall health.  

Everyone’s life needs some timely doses of humour and laughter. As the idiom goes, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy. My name may not be Jack, but I do get called a serious man by my friends. I see people who have a talent for being humorous and I wonder, is there a vaccine or another injection for that which I can take too? For instance, I heard an anecdote about a match between the Olympic medal-winning boxer Muhammad Ali and the then-heavyweight champion George Foreman. Apparently, Ali found it funny that Foreman could not land a knockout punch. He kept joking with Foreman and repeatedly asked him “that’s all you got?”

After I found out that I suffered from a rare disease, I looked for ways to lighten up my circumstances, which often threatened to become dreary. Pondering over humour led me to explore laughter therapy and infuse the necessary levity into my life. I was already taking all kinds of medicines and trying alternative therapies in the hope of achieving holistic healing, but I also needed to give myself a humour prescription. Laughter therapy may well be considered the underdog in my arsenal of treatments. I wanted to find a successful cure, and I wanted to do it with a smile, with lots of laughter in my life. Besides, I found that laughter therapy helped me stay calm, even when circumstances were tense.

Being able to laugh through my situation made me feel more positive. It also helped me enjoy social interactions and leisure activities like playing table tennis. With laughter therapy bringing down my stress levels, I also realized other welcome health consequences. I was able to digest food – and life – better, and my vital signs like body weight, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels improved as well. My body was producing more happiness hormones and every part of me seemed to agree with this state of mind!

Along this journey into humour, I recognized how, as adults, we go about life activities with focus and purpose, which I was doing with laughter therapy as well. Breaking this mould, I feel we need to think about laughter as kidults – reawakening the kids within us by talking gibberish, acting the fool, watching cartoons, etc. as such activities allow us to relax and relieve our stresses. And as I discovered when applying my humour prescription to my father’s healing, age is no limit to being a child all over again. Again, living in a smart world is helpful – you no longer need to look for Cartoon Network on TV when you have OTT platforms like YouTube and Netflix ready to supply the necessary doses of kiddish entertainment.

While these Internet media keep us entertained, we still need to find ways to remain motivated. Having a support system can prove useful, as having people around you to add a dash of humour or fun whenever needed can substitute for elevating your spirits. Sometimes, all it takes is reliving a hilarious memory together for the laughs to break out. With families and close friends, such moments are legion if the people are still around to share them. The sheer gratitude I felt for such a company gave me reason and strength enough to keep smiling whenever possible.

My road to recovery from Isaacs’ Syndrome (a neuromuscular condition stemming from muscle hyperactivity), and Lyme disease (a bacterial illness transmitted by ticks), Glaucoma (which damages the optic nerve), and Membranous Glomerulonephritis (a progressive kidney disease) has thrown up many a lighter moment which, although somewhat self-deprecating, also features in my humour prescription. Can you imagine that my first thought upon hearing of Isaacs’ Syndrome was that it was probably named for Isaac Newton’s contributions to medical science? Or that seeing my diagnostic reports mention neuromyotonia (the other name for Isaacs’) had me wishing it did not sound like a weapon of some kind? A friend once joked that running a Google search for my symptoms caused their computer to hang.

Then there were the times I was hospitalized. During admission, I would chuckle to myself thinking that the staff were first going to diagnose my insurance policy and confirm it was in good health before diagnosing my health. When my doctors changed my medication, I thought I was experiencing some kind of withdrawal symptom! I also wondered if diabetes came with side effects like deafness -because I could not hear myself chewing on my much-beloved chocolate cake. At another time, I tiptoed past the medicines on my bedside table, not wanting to wake up from my sleeping pills.

I also became more appreciative of others’ attempts at infusing humour into my life. When playing table tennis with a friend, I was reminded it was my turn to serve with a Biblical quote – “humans are born to serve and not to be served.” Over time, I began to collect humour-related – and humorous trivia. For instance, the funny bone is badly named because it is neither a bone nor is it funny when one gets hurt there! I found out that babies apparently laugh 400 times a day, and that the Greek Stoic philosopher Chrysippus (of Soli) supposedly died laughing.

On a side note, World Laughter Day was initiated in India by a Mumbai-based doctor, but India is ranked an abysmally low 140th per the 2019 Happiness Report. I think we could also use a laugh more occasionally. I sometimes joke to myself that God would not create us just to give himself an existential crisis. I sincerely hope you readers do not ever find yourself as humourless as I have sometimes seen myself become.


The views expressed above in this article are the author’s own and do not represent any kind of medical advice.

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