In 1979, a man claimed he cured himself of a chronic illness by watching funny movies and taking vitamins. He survived 26 years longer than his doctor predicted. His name was Norman Collins. After him, this method started to be called Laughter Therapy or Humor Therapy.
Humor or Laughter Therapy is a complementary treatment for patients with cancer. We were born with the gift of laughing in a world in need of a reminder of how easy, healthy and contagious it is.
One of the most grateful and meaningful moments I have ever experienced is when I volunteer for a service called Siloe which consisted of going every Sunday to visit sick kids in the hospital. We carried with us color pencils, pictures to paint, puppetries, and red noses.
The small size of humanity has enormous hearts, big dreams, and brave stories to share. It was not about us anymore. Personal issues stayed behind. We became whoever person they needed us to be. A clown. A friend. A storyteller. A little puppet named Coca.
© Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Sick kids and patients, in general, do need a doctor on their side, but they also need something else. Laughter may be the only medicine is left to take.
The good feeling after a laugh remains even after the joke is over. It helps you keep an optimistic outlook to go through stressful situations and disappointments. It also gives the strength and courage to face problems and to find hope again.
Humor will not heal patients or may not cure any ills, but there are positives factors to start laughing with no control. In the short-term, a laugh can stimulate the heart, circulation, lungs, and muscles. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure leaving your muscle relaxes for up to 45 minutes after. It reduces the symptoms of stress and tension.
In an extended period, laughter strengthens the immune system. A person who is in the hospital is more likely to have negative thoughts. Those negative thoughts bring into the system stress and tension, decreasing, by consequence, the immunity system.
Positive thoughts release molecules that help fight potentially more severe illnesses. Laugh makes the body produce its natural painkillers. These natural painkillers are called Endorphin. They promote an overall sense of well-being by relieving pain and helping those who are laughing, to fight against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
“When you treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you will win, no matter what the outcome,” by Patch Adams.
My personal experience taught me how depressive a hospital could make you feel. Everything surrounding me it didn’t seem to be more than sadness, broken faith and zero percent of hope, but that’s another story.
Laugh. Laugh as your last day of life. Laugh until your tummy hurts. Laugh until you can’t feel your cheeks anymore. Laugh until you start crying.
© Réhahn Photography