Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

Years ago there was a story about a guy who had a terminal disease, but determined to cure himself through laughter. His name is Norman Cousins. He was the editor of Saturday Review for 30 years and wrote a book entitled, “Anatomy of an Illness.” He spent his days watching Laurel and Hardy movies and other comedy films that made him laugh. The amazing thing is that he was healed and he credits his healing to laughter. Look up Norman Cousins on the internet.

The Maryland Medical Center found that laughing is almost as effective as exercise for improving arterial health. So when you go to the gym, find a comfortable chair and watch the sweat hogs pumping iron and popping hemorrhoids, the fat guys trying to tie their shoes and the young gong-ho beginners throwing a subtle flex and sucking in their gut while glancing furtively and seemingly inconspicuously in the mirror as they walk by. Just don’t let anyone see you laugh. That’s the tricky part.

Sitting where you can also see the young ladies jogging on the treadmill is an additional benefit in terms of exercising the eye muscles and increasing peripheral vision, but that must be weighed against a possible increase in stress. But back to laughter…

Laughter relaxes blood vessels and improves circulation to the heart and it lowers cortisol, a hormone related to stress. The reason it works is that it reduces stress and stress will compromise your immune system. There are other ways of reducing stress, including exercise, having a dog or cat, prayer and other things, but laughing is fun.

In short, laughter is good for you. Do it whenever you can.

Life is full to the brim with pain, sadness, sickness, cruelty, disasters, mentally ill and stupid political leaders and a myriad of negative events that can bury you emotionally. Yogi Berra said, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I say, “If you get a chance to laugh, take it!”


  1. Hey, I think I resemble that part of the guy in the mirror. But be that as it may, I really like the part about watching the young... Oh well what really makes me laugh is thinking I would remember what to do if they looked back.

    I remember a time when I still lived in CA. not Texas about 15 years ago and was skiing every weekend at Alpine Meadows. I was on the back side and had skied about 8-10 times up and down and was standing in the singles line for the lift, looked to my right about eight lines over where two very young women were looking over and waving in my direction. I looked for a moment and stood tall, sucked in my stomach, which was much smaller then, and pointed at myself to say, ME?

    They smiled and nodded yes. They yelled, "We want to ski with you." I thought, what do I do now? Well like all good red blooded American males, I quickly got on the lift with a couple about 5 years older than I and laughed all the way the the top.

    That was a stress relieving moment because I did not have to figure out what to do. I could just be good old dumb me!

    Thanks Ralph, love the thoughtful looks inward.


  2. Malcolm - What a great story. I'm sure a lot of us can relate to that. I hope you were able to assemble your forces and develop a strategy by the time you got to the top of the mountain. On the other hand, I would have probably gotten nervous and lost my balance, hooked a ski in the lift and sailed up the hill upside down.

  3. Ralph, your insight is astounding! Keep laughing my friend.....with this medicine, we can live longer than our folks.
    Claire & Inga Warnock

  4. Claire & Inga -

    I think we always kept the laugh switch on when we got together whether here or up in your territory in Canada. I still laugh thinking about the time we took you to the hospital on an ironing board after you took a bad hit while sparring. The doc thought you were a woman by your name, so we played along and told him you in labor. They kicked Dave and me out of the hospital. "Hi" Inga!

  5. Ralph,
    A great commentary on one of my favorite emotions, laughter. I am headed to the hospital in the morning for surgery, and will try to bring some humor to the hospital staff and, subsequently, to myself. Keep the comments coming.

  6. Tom-
    I remember what you told the doctor after your prostate biopsy, "In some countries you and I are now legally married." If the surgeon is the same guy and he carries you over the threshold into the operating room, you better get Sharon to call security.