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Laughing Your Way Out of Depression

You may have heard of the proverb, "laughter is good medicine." Well this more than just a saying. In my experience, I have found that a good laugh can cut through the melancholy of depression like a knife through warm butter. This is because when you laugh, your brain produces opiates and other natural mood elevators that free you from pain and suffering and create an experience of joy and peace that is truly healing.

Perhaps the most famous example of the healing power of laughter occurred in the life of Norman Cousins. In 1964, Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review, discovered that the connective tissue in his spine was deteriorating and was given a 1 in 500 chance of surviving.

Faced with the real prospect of his impending death, Cousins made a decision to check into a hotel room and rent a movie projector and a large supply of funny films, including numerous Candid Camera tapes and several old prints of Marx Brother’s movies. On his first night in the hotel Cousins found that he laughed so hard at the films that he was able to stimulate chemicals in his body that allowed him several hours of pain free sleep.

Over the next few weeks Cousins laughed himself back to health and in 1991, published a best book about his experience, Anatomy of An Illness, which became an international best seller and launched the field of humor and healing.

Now this is all well and good, but for those of us who suffer from depression for when we become seriously depressed, it is hard (if not impossible) to see the humor in anything. I have found that there are a number ways that you can build laughter into your daily environment. These include:

  • Renting films of your favorite comedies. My favorites include anything by Woody Allen, Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day and the Koen Brothers The Big Lebowski.
  • Look at some comic clips on You Tube.
  • Reading your favorite comic strip.
  • Having  a humorous poster in your home or at the office.
  • Engaging in joke-telling with your friends.
  • Having a book of funny jokes.

One of my favorite books of humor was written by the New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, called I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said. Berra, who was not well educated, became famous for saying these ludicrous sayings which at first look seemed absurd, but turned out to be somewhat profound. Here are some of my favorites.

“The restaurant is so crowded, no one goes there anymore.”
“It’s deja view all over again.”
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
“90% of the game is half mental.”

I wish you the best in bringing laughter into your life.

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