Why the strange salutation? Read on and you’ll understand.
But before I delve into this installment, please know that I wrote this entire article prior to the horrific events that happened early Friday morning (7/20/2012) in Aurora, Colorado. And while the meat of this article is true, it may be too early, particularly for those personally affected by what has now become known as The Batman Massacre, to implement.
Today’s installment was spawned from a thought one of my clients had while commiserating with me over all of the negativity spued at us from all directions. Whether it’s the news, at our jobs, or within our inner circle of family and friends, it seems that there is more to pout and cry about than to smile and laugh along with.
So he suggested I research smiling and laughing to see if there is any scientific research explaining what, if any, health benefits exist. And wouldn’t you know…there is. In fact, so much so, that the study of laughter has its own field called gelotology. And those “gelotologists” have found that laughing can have a positive effect on one’s physical and mental well-being.
According to William Fry, M.D., of Stanford University, the immediate benefits of laughing can be measured just a half a second of reacting to something funny. Furthermore, over time, subjects who have reported a steady “diet” of laughter and smiles have shown measurable improvements in having:
- lower blood pressure
- increased vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood (better heart health)
- stronger diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles
- reduced levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline
- increased response of tumor- and disease-killing cells such as Gamma-interferon and T-cells
- formidable defenses against respiratory infections–even reducing the frequency of colds–by immunoglobulon in saliva.
- increased memory and learning
- improved alertness and creativity
- more joy and zest to life
- less anxiety and fear
- enhanced resilience
I know you and I are all very busy and most of us, especially yours truly, try to make every waking second as “productive” as possible. I am not saying that you like-minded workaholics, over achievers or successful professionals don’t. But what I do know is that I haven’t taken the time to smile and laugh in my own life for a long, long, long time. And if you, or someone you know and love is that way too, I strongly “prescribe” an immediate change.
So, along with working out (with me of course) and following a sensible meal plan, have a few servings a day of laughter. How?
- Watch a funny movie or TV show.
- Go to a comedy club.
- Read the Comic Section.
- Share a good joke or a funny story.
- Host game night with friends.
- Play with a pet.
- Go to a “laughter yoga” class.
- Goof around with children.
- Do something silly.
- Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke).
I have lost way too many people in my life recently – people I loved dearly and some I still do. And one thing I know holds true, is that when you reflect on the times spent with those in your past, you tend to remember the times you smiled and laughed together more than the times that were spent being productive spent. And my fellow Designers that, along with your physical and mental health, is PRICELESS!
So, (referring back to my salutation) as Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) from Fantasy Island always said, “Smiles everyone! Smiles!”.
By the way, maybe Fantasy Island was located in Thailand aka The Land of The Smiles. If not, at least one thing is for sure, Montalban must have practiced what he preached. He died in 2009 at the age of 88.