You may not know this, but the average adult laughs seventeen times per day. When I first read that, I thought it was a bit overestimated. Frankly, I can’t envision myself laughing that many times in one twenty-four-hour period (unless I’m checking out my favorite comedian), but I suppose I do.
An interesting juxtaposition of that statistic is the accompanying stat about children. The little tykes laugh over three hundred times a day. That, I can imagine. When you don’t pay bills, work for a living, or drive in city traffic, there’s definitely more room for laughter.
The Giggle Theory
Laughing is a thing most of us enjoy, I suppose. I know I do. There’s something about a good chortle that makes me feel better. There’s actually scientific evidence that supports my giggle theory. I found this little missive on the internet (which, as we all know, makes it true).
Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
These facts, of course, lead to the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” The old Reader’s Digest magazine used to have a monthly feature with that title. My Mom was a faithful subscriber to that mag, and I would grab it out of the mailbox simply to read that periodic article. I left the rest to my Mother. I was a kid, of course, so I had to use it to help me get my three hundred laughs. (By the way, it’s also Biblical—Proverbs 17:22.)
All this talk about laughter being a healthy business makes me wonder. How did we ever come up with the old phrase, “I laughed so hard I split a gut.” Nothing about that sounds healthy. Well, maybe the laughing hard part… Splitting a gut is definitely less than desirable. It reminds me of when my appendix burst—not fun. (But I digress…)
I’m really surprised that no one has come up with endorphins in pill form. On second thought, if they did, someone would start selling them on the black market. Everyone would want them, the government would regulate them, and the pushers would make out like bandits. I think that even I would seek out my local Dr. Feelgood to get my daily fix. Who wouldn’t?
The problem, of course, is there are two good ways to get the “feel-good” endorphin. One, as we’ve been saying, is by laughing a lot. But, since we’re adults and don’t laugh all that much, we’ve got to resort to the second way—exercise. Most of us are not interested in the latter, so we have to revert to finding things to make us laugh. Some of us watch videos of endless numbers of people falling down. I’m not sure why this makes us laugh, but the people in the videos certainly aren’t. They all need Dr. Feelgood.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]