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


Thursday, January 27, 2011

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.” Cousins 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.

Remember - we don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are. Cousins was evidently able to change the way things were, because of who he was and the mindset he brought to his unfortunate circumstances. Someone said that the opposite of humor is depression. I wonder then if the cure for depression may be humor.

The Maryland Medical Center found that laughing is almost as effective as exercise for improving arterial health, so there’s obviously a physiological benefit as well as a psychological benefit in 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, music and other things, but laughing is easy and cheap.

Life is full to the brim with pain, sadness, sickness, cruelty, disasters, and death. There are myriads of negative events that can bury you emotionally.

Mark Twain said, “The source of all humor is sorrow.” That may or may not be true, but I tend to think that there’s something to it. Cynicism is certainly a source of humor, but you can find humor in human behavior and a myriad of more superficial things. And it may be true that in a deeper sense sorrow does play a role. But one thing is certain, laughter is good for you, so do it whenever you can.

Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

I say, “If you get a chance to laugh, take it.”


  1. And maybe best of all Ralph, be sure and laugh at ourselves first.

  2. I agree. I haven't taken myself seriously for years. If I don't laugh at myself, Gayle will do it for me.