Finding Laughter: What Does Norman Cousin’s Laughter Have to Do With Me? (Day 9)
I credit Norman Cousins and Sofia (see day 8) for this topic. If a 20 month old appreciates humour and a fatally ill man heals himself with humour, then who am I to bypass this important topic?
I had heard about Normam’s recovery from a fatal illness by the use of laughter. So I decided I should read the book: Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration. Norman’s story starts in 1964 with him coming down with Ankylosing Spondyliti: a rare, painful, life-threatening, connective tissue disease which attacked his joints. Norman refused to accept his grim prognosis (of a few months to live).
So he forged ahead with an unusual plan. In addition to “laughter sessions,” Norman did two other things. He moved into a hotel near the hospital so that he could control his environment (quieter, less daily testing which impinged on his rest, more cheerful, better food) and he took mega doses of Vitamin C.
It is the laughter treatment that most caught my attention. Regularly throughout the night, Norman would watch funny movies: Marx Brothers and Candid Camera. He discovered that inflammation and pain decreased after these “treatments.” Norman found that 10 minutes of belly laughter laughter yielded 2 hours of pain-free sleep. Finally Norman did recover from Ankylosing Spondyliti; passing away in 1990 (26 years after his initial diagnosis).
Quotes from Norman . . .
- Laughter serves as a blocking agent. Like a bulletproof vest, it may help protect you against the ravages of negative emotions that can assault you in disease.
- Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an igniter of great expectations.
Since reading this book, I have tried my own laughter treatments. I do believe in the effectiveness of laughter and a positive mindset/environment, BUT getting 10 minutes of continuous belly laughter day-after-day is TOUGH – at least for me.
- I haven’t yet discovered a show or movie that consistently makes me laugh.
- The laughter exercises (here and here) are more corny than mirth producing.
- And laughing my way to work is fizzling because my “fake” laughter rarely turns real laughter and too often I get side-tracked and realize I am at work and I didn’t laugh my way there.
So as of Day 9, I am floundering
Your Turn . . . Do you have a suggestion for a show or movie? Or any other suggestions?
Related Internet Resources . . .
- Norman Cousins, Anatomy of an Illness (Youtube Interview)
- Anatomy Of An Illness (movie starring Ed Asner)
I am joining 100’s of others at #write31days to write every day in October on a single topic. My topic is 31 Days of Finding Laughter. I will spend time each day studying laughter to see if I can improve my laughter quotient.
Go here for the landing page which has all the posts in one spot.
Read, learn, and discover with me what this world of laughter is all about and is it all that it’s cracked up to be. And be sure to leave a comment. Talking together will make for a richer, interactive experience for all of us.