The Power of Laughter

Amanda - Penn Valley, Pennsylvania
Entered on September 3, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in the power of laughter. I believe that whether you are ailing physically or emotionally, laughter is the best medicine to cure you. In hospitals, caregivers sometimes use laughing, or humor therapy, to aid in the healing process for all patients, especially with those who have chronic conditions. This method is popular because laughter is universally understood and can alleviate the pain and stress of sickness.

While laughter may not be the most traditional form of treatment, it is clinically proven to aid in the healing process and to improve your physical and mental health. An article by Hara Marano in Psychology Today stated that laughter helps to reduce pain and discomfort; it reduces blood sugar levels and increases glucose tolerance; it helps to increase blood flow and to pump oxygen to your brain and heart.

But my belief in the power of laughter does not rest on the assertions of doctors or medical professionals. I believe in the power of laughter because my Grandpop taught me to. He relied on humor to help him conquer his struggles throughout his life, and he instilled this value in me.

He was born to parents who had little money to support their nine children. His father died when he was 17, so he was forced to work and enlist in the army to fight in the South Pacific during World War II. He survived the war and returned home with a Purple Heart and shrapnel in his legs. He eventually started his own business, got married and raised five of his own children.

In his final years, Grandpop experienced severe deterioration in his physical health. As his body weakened, he relied heavily on humor to feel alive. When with family or friends, he would tell a funny story or a joke, even if he couldn’t use physical humor as he used to. In our final conversation, he told me my favorite joke about two old Jewish men who are being honored at a dinner and rent suits infested with lice.

The funeral and the days following it reflected this attitude. The speeches spoke of his propensity to tell a joke to relax a client at a business meeting or to simply make his family and friends laugh. At the shiva, my family commemorated my grandfather by remembering stories about him, which quickly turned into a medley of jokes and old stories that he used to tell. The laughter we shared helped all of us deal with the grief of losing our loved one.

I believe that laughter is universal. It has no language or color, religion or class; it connects strangers and friends alike through a single gesture. I believe that laughter has the power to invigorate the old and sickly and to ease the pain of the helpless. I believe that laughter can ease the grieving process and be the glue that holds a family together, but mostly I believe that laughter has the power to improve the quality of life.