Introduction. The phrase ‘laughter is the best medicine’ refers to the notion that thinking positively and laughing will help you to feel better. That might mean feeling better about something that was making you upset. Or, as some studies have suggested, it might be the case that laughter and positive thinking can help people to heal from illnesses.
Origin of the phrase
People sometimes attribute the origin of this phrase to the American publisher and humor writer Bennett Cerf. However, others have postulated earlier origins for the phrase ‘laughter is the best medicine’.
One suggestion is that the phrase derives from Proverbs 17 in the Old Testament. Here, it is said that ‘a merry heart is like medicine’.
The ultimate origins of the phrase may well just be lost in the mists of time: this phrase has become such an integral property of human culture across the world that it can be said to be the property of everyone without being ‘owned’ by any single person.
What is the meaning of this phrase?
‘Laughter is the best medicine’ means that laughter can cure both mental and physical ailments. This is a proverbial phrase, i.e. a short, pithy statement of a general truth.
The proverb can refer to the fact that laughter has a beneficial impact on several aspects of our health. It also refers to the fact that a positive outlook on life enables us to overcome adversity and sadness.
‘Laughter is the best medicine’ thus mean that:
- Laughter has the power to heal our bodies physically.
- The state of happiness, joy and calmness has the ability to enhance our health, particularly emotional health.
- A person who laughs easily has the capability to overcome adversity in an effective manner.
- Laughter cures us of negative states of mind.
- Laughter and calmness has the power to ‘heal’ social ills such as arguments or discord in families, communities and nations.
One of the key things that people often ask about this idea is whether it is scientifically proven that laughter can improve our health and our mental and physical well-being.
Well, in fact, several studies have shown that the act of smiling can make your mood improve. A fun fact about this principle is that in some companies in South Korea, workers are asked to gather together at the start of the working day and laugh together. This laughter may be described as ‘forced laughter’, however bosses and employees maintain that it creates a sense of unity and also lifts workers’ moods and makes them more productive during the rest of the working day.
Below, when we look at the importance of the notion of ‘laughter is the best medicine’, we will note some of the key health benefits that are thought to result from laughter.
The importance of the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine”, is highlighted below:
1. This proverb on laughter prompts a cheerful outlook on life. The feeling that you can laugh at any situation and not let it get the better of you is very empowering. It helps you to maintain a positive way of looking at the world and can help you to be more resilient in the fact of challenges.
2. Laughter relaxes us. When we laugh, our muscles relax, and all the tension that we have been storing up in our ligaments begins to dissipate. This relaxing effect can last for nearly an hour.
3. Laughter is good for the heart. Laughter gets the blood flowing through our blood vessels, and improves their performance. In this way, laughter is great for cardiac health. So why not go watch a comedy show after your workout for a super cardio health boost?
4. Laughter reduces stress. Laughter inhibits the release of stress hormones in the body (such as cortisol, for example), and this dramatically reduces our stress and anxiety. So, the next time that you feel sad or stressed out by work, try and cheer yourself up with your favorite joke book or comedy show.
5. Laughter boosts your immune system. Decreasing the amount of stress hormones in your body (one of the key effects of laughter) also has a positive impact on the immune system. In addition, laughter prompts your body to release more disease fighting antibodies and this also helps to keep you free from nasty colds and other diseases. If you are already feeling ill, moreover, laughter can help to accelerate the healing process.
6. Laughter makes you feel positively happy. When you laugh, your body releases more endorphins – and these make you feel positive, happy and confident. So, as well as decreasing your stress levels, laughter actually measurably boosts your happiness too.
7. Resolving conflict. If you are working in a team and experience a conflict, you can ‘heal’ this wound with the medicine of laughter. Laughing together enables the team to dissolve tension and also creates a feeling of unity between all members of the group. Try it!
8. Laughter beats pain. Studies have shown that people who laugh can decrease their pain levels. Of course, you probably should reach for the analgesics, too, but their effect will be much stronger if you can laugh about your pain at the same time.
9. Laughter makes others laugh. Seeing other people laugh is funny in itself. When we see another person laugh, we can start laughing ourselves and this spreads positivity further and further throughout the world.
10. Laughter reduces fear. If we are afraid of a person or an event, laughing at it helps to diminish that fear considerably. So try finding something funny about that daunting upcoming interview or meeting with your boss – that way, you know that you can laugh about it afterwards.
So, we have seen that laughter can make our heart healthier, boost our immune system and enhance our mental health as well. By decreasing the hormones that make us stressed and increasing the amount of hormones that make us happy, laughter is great for enabling us to stay resilient, confident and positive no matter what the world throws at us. As the famous slogan says, ‘don’t worry, be happy!’
In addition, laughter can make our whole body feel relaxed, which is exactly what we need after a long day spent hunched over the computer or dealing with the stresses and strains of work. So maybe that old saying is right: Maybe laughter really is the best medicine!