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Gelotology – The study of laughter

ryanBy Ryan Cheney/Guest Blogger

No, Ladies and Gentlemen, Gelotology is not the study of gelatin. :P By a show of hands, how many had that as their first thought? Yeah, I thought so. For those of you that did, here’s your quick study for the day. Gelatin is an avoid for A’s, B’s, and AB’s. For us O’s, it’s a neutral. Now, who remembers the Jell-O jingle, “Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle”? All right, everyone – back to the present.

Gelotology is the study of laughter, and humor. and their effect on the human body. Laughter has also been studied from both a psychological, and physiological perspective. What I’d like to know is who first presented the idea of doing research on laughter, and who first gave money for the study? That must have made for an interesting study proposal!

With all that has taken place in recent weeks, folks could definitely use a healthy dose of laughter. Political meltdown,  rising prices, and a whole slew of other happenings.

How we react to the events that go on in, and around our lives, are critical to our physical, and emotional well-being. When we allow the people, objects, or situations around us to dictate our thoughts, emotions, and physical behaviors, we are giving them our energy, our power. Why would we want to waste our energy on someone, or something, that we don’t like, or that is out of our control? As Florence Scovel-Shinn noted many years ago, “All stress is self-imposed”. We are only affected by that which we allow to affect us. If we are going to allow ourselves to be affected, let it be by laughter, and happiness, not anger, jealousy, or hostility.

As more studies about laughter come to light, the physical and emotional benefits of laughter become evident. With laughter, stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenaline are reduced. At the same time, healthy hormones such as endorphins, and neurotransmitters are increased. Laughter also provides a physical workout for the abs, diaphragm, and even the heart. So which is more beneficial, having a good laugh, or flipping the guy off that just cut you off in traffic? It’s far easier, and better, to laugh at him, than to risk a road-rage incident.

Back in February, I had pretty much given up on the radio, and televised news. Most televised news is doom and gloom. Every once in awhile, they offer an uplifting story, but not nearly often enough. My 700+ album collection just wasn’t cutting it on my hour long commute to work anymore, either.

So instead, I started listening to comedy music. Years ago, I used to listen to the Dr. Demento show every Sunday night. It was on past my bedtime, but I would put my head right up against my clock radio, and listen to it at a very low volume. The hard part was stifling my laughter when one of the more funny songs would come on. Imagine my surprise, when I found out that the Dr. Demento show was still on the air. Unfortunately, no one in my area carries the show anymore. However, I did find a radio station in California, KEGR, http://www.kegr.org/ that still plays older shows, and streams them online. So once again, every Sunday night from 10 p.m. to midnight, I’m tuned in to the Dr. Demento show. I’m just not cuddling with the clock radio anymore!

There are lots of internet radio sites as well as YouTube videos that can give you a laugh and lift your spirits – whether you enjoy watching kids do crazy things or cute animals frolicking – there’s something for everyone to find their happy place!

 

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