Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Make em laugh, make em laugh part 1.

Have you ever been driving behind another vehicle and glanced at the vehicle in front, only to notice some witty phrase that about sums life up in a single statement? Or happen to see some graffiti poet making light of a serious situation?
I am a bit of a gatherer of facts. I love finding amusing ditties or notes posted around. In particular, a raison d’ĂȘtre of one line, that adds a measure of irony, humour and wisdom at the same time. Regardless of social standing, ethnicity or language, there is something about humour that lightens the load and makes the journey somewhat enjoyable. I love funny people and spend much of my time searching them out. At school, I and most of my friends would be found outside the headmasters office explaining a “prank gone wrong”, or why we were disrupting the class with some inane attempt to “oil the wheels” of a squeaky day. Years later as a teacher, lecturer, and public speaker, I am still at it.

Spike Milligan, influenced my life quite profoundly as I was growing up. His humour, whilst witty was incredibly easy to understand and apply. Often I would find myself (not that I was lost), in the playground reiterating one of his phrases, with some bizarre voice contortion, that was funnier than the words I spoke. Humour is a powerful emotion. It can add a sense of sanity in an insane situation. I was never good at fighting in school, so I adopted a sense of humour and amazingly, few people wanted to bash me. I got invited to parties and built strong friendships with the class idiots. Whilst others were academically achieving, we were at the back of the class wondering what we could do with a ball of string, a cobbler’s wax and three fused liquorice allsorts. Amazingly, it all worked out and I often afford myself a quiet giggle as I am lecturing at seminars to people with Doctorates, Masters and a myriad of letters after their name. I still have the cobblers wax.

So what (if anything) can humour teach us?

Humour and Health
When health has deteriorated it becomes harder to smile and to laugh. There is a greater risk of depression with increasing health difficulties. If you experience chronic health conditions such as arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular problems, you may become vulnerable to stress, depression and anxiety. There are studies that indicate the importance of laughter or at least smiling. Here are some well known facts about humour and health.

The Effects of Humour on Our Health

1. IMMUNITY: increased, IgA and IgM and IgG increased in blood after laughter, improved resistance to colds and infections
2. ENDORPHINS & ENCEPHALONS: natural high making chemicals of the body are increased by laughter
3. MUSCULAR relaxation (muscles take 2 hours to return to previous state of tension after belly laugh)
4. LUNGS are helped by laughter expelling residual volume of air, allowing more fresh air to enter lungs
5. EXERCISE Stress hormones reduced (adrenalin and noradrenalin, cortisol
Research by Dr. Bill Fry of Stanford Medical School has established that 100 laughs a day give you as much beneficial exercise as 10 minutes of rowing - and without the agonised expression that rowers, stationery cyclists and joggers customarily have on their faces. A study at the University of Maryland has shown that laughing regularly offers some protection against heart attacks.

Spike Milligan in life was a veritable source of fun and inspiration. In his death he is still making em laugh as the epitaph that he had chiseled in his headstone says “I told you I was ill”.