Laughter IS the Best Medicine

I’ve been having fun the last couple of weeks watching the M*A*S*H TV series on DVD. I had forgotten how funny the episodes could be and the acting is first rate. I’ve really been enjoying it. One episode in particular, though, stuck with me. In this episode, the army psychiatrist, Sydney Friedman, was visiting the 4077th for a “vacation”. The entire piece centred around a letter he was writing to his friend, Sigmund Freud, about the people at the medical unit. One comment he made really struck a cord with me. He commented that the staff at the 4077th dealt with the traumas of what was everyday life for them – wounded soldiers, blood, death, and boredom – by laughing. Through it all, they never lost their sense of humour or their sense of fun. Gurney races, practical jokes, funny comments…it was their way of laughing in the face of crisis.

I don’t know about you but I find that when I am stressed, one of the first things to go is my sense of humour (I only wish it was my appetite!) It is hard to laugh when you are worried. I also spent nine years working in a cancer centre, and it was always interesting to see the different reactions of the patients when there was laughter echoing through the building. Some people thought it was a sign of disrespect that people could laugh or joke when people were so ill. Others joined right in. Studies have shown that laughter is a wonderful way to alleviate stress. It gives your internal organs a massage and encourages positive emotions and thoughts…and hope. It is hard to worry when you are laughing!

So take time to have a good laugh today. Watch a funny movie. Get together with friends. Read the comics in the newspaper. Or do like I have been doing and go out to rent M*A*S*H on DVD…only don’t rent season 10…I haven’t seen that one yet!