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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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The Medical Benefits of Laughter

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Dr. Patrick Dixon MA, MBBS, is an English physician, business consultant and futurist internationally respected for his creative research and analysis.  In 2005 he was ranked as one of the 20 most influential business thinkers alive according to the Thinkers 50 (a private survey printed in The UK Times).  His Global Change website has had over 12 million different visitors. Dixon has written fourteen books covering a wide range of issues and trends including risk management, digital society, geopolitics, consumer shifts, health care, biotechnology, social issues, politics and business ethics. Futurewise, first published in 1998, uses the word FUTURE as a mnemonic standing for “Six Faces of the Future” which will impact every large business: Fast, Urban, Tribal, Universal, Radical and Ethical.

Dr. Dixon  has made a stunning diagnosis of the medical benefits of laughter.  Out of five million medical research papers published around the world since the mid-1960s, Dr. Dixon discovered  hundred of papers analyzing the phenomenon of laughter.  The first thing Dr. Dixon noted is that some people hardly seem to laugh at all.  Everything is taken seriously.  Such people, notes Dr. Dixon, are hard to live with and often have a tendency to be morose or depressed.  Someone who can never laugh is as emotionally imprisoned as someone who can never cry.  Doctors and nurses, commented Dr. Dixon, are now realizing that laughter is a powerful way to reduce tension and stress, creating a sense of well-being, increasing contentment and alertness, helping us place the problems and difficulties of life in context.

Medical research has discovered remarkable impacts on our hormonal levels, in response to laughter.  Laughter has been shown to shut down the “stress” hormones like cortisol, dopamine, adrenaline, and growth hormone, keeping them at lower healthier levels.  Such hormones are released when we are tense, working hard, worried, or afraid.  It is all part of the fight or flight reaction built into all of us, enabling us to either overcome an attacker or dash away to safety.  In our modern business culture, however, all the “stress hormones” are released, but no exercise follows and the body suffers.  Consequently, says Dr. Dixon, we develop stomach ulcers, our arteries clog up, we become irritable and develop many other symptoms – all because our bodies are pumping out hormones that we don’t need.

Laughter is remarkably selective in what it shuts down.  In the  Journal of the American Medical Association #267, Dr. W. Fry notes that the endorphin protein, a natural morphine-like substance in our bodies, seems to remain constant in laughter, even as the stress hormones are being shut down.  Virtually all of us learn to laugh at four months of age, something which requires the action of fifteen facial muscles and changes in breathing.  When we laugh, at first the heart rate increases as does our rate of breathing.  After our laughter ceases, there is a period of relaxation, easing muscle tension and useful in breaking the muscle spasm in some neuralgias and rheumatism.  It has been estimated that 100 good laughs are equivalent to 10 minutes of rowing.  Dr. James Walsh, in his book Laughter & Health, described laughter as a massaging of all the organs within the body.  Cumulative laughter throughout the day, says Dr. Fry, may be significantly greater than that of an average marathon.  He describes laughter physiologically as an aerobic experience, an internal stationary jogging!

Laughter, comments Dr. Dixon, also aids lung ventilation, helping people with chest problems to clear congestion.  Research by Dr. McClelland, Dillan & Baker shows that laughter significantly increased levels of salivary immunoglobin A, a vital immune system protein which protects us against respiratory illnesses.  Dr. W. Fry at the 4th International Conference on Humour in Israel noted that laughter improves alertness, memory, learning, & creativity by releasing catecholamines into our body.  Laughter also has a measurable impact on reducing high blood pressure.

Why are we often attracted to others with a good sense of humour?  Because we seem to intuitively know that the ability to see the absurd, the ridiculous and the entertaining in the serious and trivial helps keep us mentally stable and healthy.  Somehow the burdens of overwork, excess responsibility, and the grief of life can fall off our shoulders, as laughter lightens our hearts.  Dr Patrick Dixon reminds us that laughter is not a frill, but a medical essential. Perhaps that is why the old proverb reminds us that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.

My prayer from Psalm 126 for those reading this article is that our mouths may be filled with laughter and our tongues with songs of joy. May the Joy of the Lord be our strength.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Dr Chuck Swindoll: Rejoice in the Lord Always

By Rev Ed HirdDr Chuck Swindoll Picture

I enjoyed reading ‘Laugh Again’ by the best-selling author and radio communicator, Dr. Chuck Swindoll.  He tells the story of a cute Peanuts cartoon where Lucy says to Snoopy: ‘There are times when you really bug me, but I must admit there are also times when I feel like giving you a big hug.’  Snoopy replies: ‘That’s the way I am…huggable and buggable.’

Chuck’s book gives practical tips on how to take ourselves less seriously, and how to fall more in love with life.  Too many adults, says Chuck, have become so serious and overly responsible that they have lost one of God’s best gifts: a sense of humour.

Dr Chuck Swindoll's book Laugh AgainDr. Swindoll met a man who told Chuck of his need to work hard at being happier.  He said that he had been reared in an ultraserious home.  “We didn’t talk about our feelings…we worked…Funny thing…in my sixty-plus years I have achieved about everything I dreamed of doing and I have been awarded for it.  My problem is that I don’t know how to have fun and enjoy these things hard work has brought me.  I cannot remember the last time I laughed–I mean really laughed.”

As he turned to walk away, he dropped this ‘bomb’: “I suppose I now need to work harder at being happier.”  Chuck reached over, took him by the arm, and said: “Trust me on this one- a happy heart is not achieved by hard work and long hours.  If it were, the happiest people on earth would be the workaholics…and I have never met a workaholic whose sense of humour balanced out his intensity.”

Dr. Swindoll goes on to talk about the up-side Dr Chuck Swindoll1and downside of our drive to achieve.  Jokingly speaking of an ‘elite club’ High Achievers Anonymous,  Chuck spoke compassionately about the high cost that our work addictions play in our primary relationships.  The tragedy is, enough is never enough.  Life becomes reduced to work, tasks, effort, an endless list of shoulds and musts…minus the necessary fun and laughter that keeps everything in perspective.  Chuck says that there is always one telltale sign when pride takes charge of our life: the fun leaves.

Deep within, the overachiever begans to think that life is much too busy, much too serious to waste it on silly things like relaxation and laughter.  Why has our 20th century suffered so terribly from laughless dictators like Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini?  G.K. Chesterton comments: ‘Madmen are always serious; they go mad from lack of humour.’

GK ChestertonG.K. Chesterton also commented: “I’m all in favour of laughing. Laughter has something in common in it with the ancient winds of faith and inspiration; it unfreezes pride and unwinds secrecy; it makes men forget themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves; something that they cannot resist.”

Dr. Swindoll had a deep fear that if he became ordained, he would have to become ultra-serious and sour-faced.  One day God said to him: “You can faithfully serve Me, but you can still be yourself.  Being my servant doesn’t require you to stop laughing.”

Laughter is hope’s last weapon.  As Dr.Swindoll puts it, only those who are firm in their faith can laugh in the face of tragedy.  A young woman had booked herself into a motel in order to do herself in.  She had endured numerous failed relationships with men and had had several abortions.  She was empty, angry, and could see no reason to go on.  Finally, just before dawn, she reached into her purse and pulled out a loaded pistol.  Trembling, she stuck it into her mouth and closed her eyes.  Suddenly the clock alarm snapped on with the message of new hope from Dr. Swindoll.  Before the thirty-minute broadcast was over, she gave her life to Jesus Christ.  When she phoned Dr. Swindoll’s office to share what had happened, she said that she could still taste the cold steel from the gun barrel she had pulled from her mouth.

My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may discover an unshakable reason to keep on living and an unshakable love of our Creator.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca