There is an old saying among university professors (like me), that if you copy and publish one person’s work, it is called “plagiarism.” If you copy and publish 10 or more people’s work it is called “research.” With those definitions in mind please let me share some of my “research” on the value and benefits of a daily diet of laughter at home and at work.
Thomas Edison, the Wizard of Menlo Park, who was one of, if not the, most prolific scientist and inventors of the 19th century, met daily for breakfast with his team to pore over books of jokes. What did Thomas Edison know then about the power of laughter that grumpy, totalitarian bosses today do not know? I suggest that you “research” Google for a long list of Edison’s jokes.
Norman Cousins conducted research on the biochemistry of human emotions, which he long believed were the key to human beings' success in fighting illness. It was a belief he maintained even as he battled in 1964 a sudden-onset case of a crippling connective tissue disease, which was also referred to as a collagen disease. Experts at Dr. Rusk's rehabilitation clinic confirmed this diagnosis and added a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis (whatever that is …) They told Cousins he only had one chance in 500 of recovery,
As Cousins lay dying on his hospital bed, he overheard a doctor telling a nurse to make Cousins comfortable as he “checks out.” Cousins decided that he wasn’t ready to check-out and developed “laugh therapy.” He took massive intravenous doses of vitamin C and had self-induced bouts of laughter brought on by videos of the television show "Candid Camera," and by various other comic films.
As Cousins was beating his “incurable disease,” his doctors would say, “keep laughing, let’s see what else happens!”
Once you get it, why not share the goodness of it? One morning Cousins decided to have some fun with his nurses. He climbed out of bed and filled his specimen cup with apple juice. When his nurse came in, she said “Norman, I have never seen it this color before ... I think I better call a doctor.” Norman said, “don’t worry, I will just run it though again," as he chugged it down.
The nurse fainted.
Here is one more true story based upon my “research” on the power of laughter as a medical healer:
"Patch Adams" is not only a terrific movie starring Robin Williams at his best, it is also a true story about the impact of laughter on improving health in children and adults. My wife and I watched the movie last week and we laughed for two hours. I will not give away the plot nor the ending.
Get the movie “Patch Adams” for your own video library and watch it annually. I felt great after the movie and slept well that night.
Laughter has been used as a therapeutic tool for many years because it is a natural form of medicine. Laughter is available to everyone and it provides benefits to a person's physical, emotional, and social well-being. Some of the benefits of using laughter therapy are that it can relieve stress and relax the whole body.
According to my “Google research” the book of Proverbs from the Bible’s Old Testament is said to have been written by Solomon sometime between 1,000 B.C. and 200 B.C.
Its ancient wisdom is as valid today as it was when written thousands of years ago:
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
We are living in stressful times. I suggest that each of us in business here in Fairbanks embrace laugh therapy to take control of ourselves and our mental/physical health. This strategy is especially important for business owners and supervisors who have employees who depend upon them for leadership and direction.
Tune into this space next Sunday for hints on developing your own healthy laughter therapy — on demand.
Charlie Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus at the UAF Community and Technical College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is brought to you as a public service by the UAF Department of Applied Business.