Benefits of Laughter 1927
GOOD EFFECTS PRODUCED BY LAUGHTER and cataloged in an article by Dr. Welsh in Medical Life are thus quoted in the “General Topics” section of American Medicine (New York). We read:
It is one of the most natural things in the world. Yet how many physicians are there who insist that their patients must laugh heartily a number of times a day, even tho they may have to laugh without very much reason. Of course if there is a good joke that tempts to laughter, then the laughter is ever so much more spontaneous, is deeper, ventilates the lungs, stimulates the heart and sets the blood coursing through the body, and makes all the organs do their work better. To allow patients, who are suffering from depression of any kind or who are oversolicitous about themselves, to go away from the physician’s office without urging them to try the effect of laughter, is to miss one of the most potent agents for good, so far as the physical being is concerned.
“Laughter, however, not only does the body good, but it does the mind good. It has been said that if you pull down the corners of your lips and keep them down, after a time you feel as glum inside as you look from the outside to those who may happen to be gazing at you. If on the other hand you turn the corners of your lips up and keep them there, it becomes impossible to feel glum inside after a while. The James-Lange theory of emotions was that the body is affected first by the emotions, and then the mind. They said we did not feel bad and then cry, but something tempted the tears to come from our tear glands, and then we felt bad. On the other hand, something titilated us to laugh with our bodies, and then we felt joyful and free-hearted interiorly.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
“This theory has not been generally accepted by psychologists, but, undoubtedly, it has a germ of truth in it, and it is well to counsel patients to try to overcome the moodiness and introspection to which they are so prone by the deliberate cultivation of habits of laughter. There is a very old proverb which says, ‘laugh and grow fat.’ It is well known that people who laugh actually do grow fat rather readily.Â The obverse of the proposition is, however, probably as true as the converse. ‘Grow fat and you will laugh.’ It is surprizing how difficult it is for thin people to laugh often. They barely crack a smile. On the other hand, stout people laugh very readily.”
Source: The Literary Digest for November 5, 1927