The remarkable healing power of happiness has been documented in the book ‘Anatomy of an Illness’ by Norman Cousins in which he tells the story of how he ‘laughed his way out of a crippling disease’ that doctors believed to be irreversible. In 1964, Cousins contracted ankylosing spondylitis – the connective tissue in his spine was disintegrating. He was told that adrenal stress could have been the cause behind it and that there was no record of anyone ever having beating the disease.

Cousins remembered having read a ten years before called ‘The Stress of Life’ about how negative stress could cause adrenal exhaustion, which would then manifest physical ailments. So he wondered, if negative emotions could cause disease, what could positive emotions do? Was it possible that love, hope, faith, laughter, confidence and the will to live could have a therapeutic value? He moved out of the hospital and began a program that called for the ‘full exercise of affirmative emotions as a factor in enhancing body chemistry’. He began his program by pulling down the blinds and watching re-runs of ‘Candid Camera’ and Marx Brothers movies, fully focused on enjoying himself. And it worked. He beat the disease and spent the rest of his life continuing his research into the relationship between attitude and health. ‘Anatomy of an Illness’ is not only a fascinating read but a must for anyone who has forgotten to have fun in life.

I will always remember reading Anatomy of an Illness when I first studied to be a naturopath more than three decades ago. It aligned with what I was studying and I took it on seriously. The Mayo clinic reported, “Whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke.” 

As a naturopath I have prescribed for decades to eat meals while watching something funny. In a two-day study into the effects of laughter on blood glucose was carried out by Dr Keiko Hayashiat the University of Tsukuba in Japan, it was found that “Laughter has a positive effect on the neuroendocrine system which suppresses the elevation of blood glucose. The inhibitory effect of laughter on increased post-prandial blood glucose levels suggests the importance of daily opportunities for laughter in patients with diabetes.” Results were published in the Diabetes Care journal.

The bottom line, laughter is a wonderful healer and it can be beneficial in prevention and management of many conditions especially for those with blood sugar issues. How do you be practical with information like this? Never eat a meal while watching the news etc. The heavy energy of the news will impact your blood sugars and health. If I am not sitting to eat with someone, I eat my meals watching a comedy. I laugh out loud and know that I am helping my body stay healthy. We can still be productive, serious people in life and have a lighter spirit. In fact, our health depends on us having a light spirit. 

From my book The 7 Steps To Sanity – For anyone who wants to have it all without sacrificing their health, sense of humour or sanity along the way.