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Posts tagged ‘George Carlin’

Go Ahead. . . Laugh!

I have heard the admonition most of my life.  I bet you have too.  Since it is a regular feature in Reader’s Digest, the statement must be true:  Laughter is the best medicine.  I have always accepted the truth of this statement on faith and personal experience.  Besides, laughing is free and can be self-induced.  But apparently there are actual studies that prove the validity of this claim.

Norman Cousins is probably the best known proponent of laughing yourself to good health.  He recorded his bout with illness and healing in Anatomy of an Illness by the Patient: Reflections on Healing (1979).  His story is pretty dramatic.  In 1964 he was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rare disease of the connective tissues.  He was told his chances for survival were minimal and to get his affairs in order.

However, instead of accepting that bleak outcome, Cousins took action.  First, he checked out of the hospital and sought out a doctor who would work with him as a team member in a friendlier setting.  Next, since the disease was known to deplete the body of Vitamin C, he started taking mega-doses of the vitamin.  But his third and best action was that he arranged to watch hour after hour after hour of comedies to help him laugh as much as possible.  He documents that the laughter helped him sleep better, relieved pain, and made him healthy.  He lived for another 26 years!

Now, there are various studies that document the health and social benefits of laughing.  Of course, some reviewers caution that not all the studies praising the benefits of laughing were conducted with appropriate scientific rigor.  Still, places like HelpGuide.org, ABC News, and the Mayo Clinic praise and encourage laughing.  The main benefits from the simple act of laughing on a regular basis are impressive:

  • Relaxes the body,
  • Alleviates pain,
  • Releases endorphins,
  • Boosts immunity,
  • Protects the heart and other organs, and
  • Reduces stress.

The Mayo Clinic even suggests that a forced smile can help anyone feel better:

“Go ahead and give it a try. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you’ve had your chuckle, take stock of how you’re feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant? That’s the natural wonder of laughing at work.”


Some medical professionals have started prescribing laughter for their patients. These professionals use “humor carts” to bring laughter-inducing materials to the bedside and coordinate “laughter clubs” to get people together for the express purpose of generating laughter.  Reader’s Digest offers a fun little article called “19 Ways to Enhance Your Sense of Humor.”  Just imagining a group of adults practicing the following suggestion made me giggle!

“Spend 15 minutes a day having a giggling session. Here’s how you do it: You and another person (partner, kid, friend, etc.) lie on the floor with your head on her stomach, and her head on another person’s stomach and so on (the more people the better).  The first person says, “Ha.” The next person says, “Ha-ha.” The third person says, “Ha-ha-ha.” And so on. We guarantee you’ll be laughing in no time.”

I certainly hope you take this medical advice to heart.  I know I do.  Most week nights, I unwind at the end of a long tiring day by watching The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  His guests are fairly typical, except he does occasionally invite authors, philosophers, and politicians along with the more usual celebrities.  But mainly I can count on him to be downright silly.  During most episodes, I laugh out loud, even if some of the laughs are more like stifled groans because the jokes are so bad.  You see, it does not matter how you laugh:  a loud belly laugh, a stifled snicker, or a bellowing guffaw.  The main thing is to laugh, hopefully every day!

In case you need some help finding things to laugh about, I’m embedding some videos below with excerpts from some of my favorite funny people, mostly from the past.  I’d love to hear what makes you chuckle:  TV shows, books, movies, comics/comediennes, kids, pets, maybe life’s irritations.  Maybe you even have a favorite joke.


The Carol Burnett Show was always funny—and one of my favorites as a kid.  There are many classic skits from that show like “Went with the Wind” or Harvey Korman and Tim Conway in the “Dentist’s Office.”  But I selected this “Star Trek Parody,” in part because I did not remember it.  Carol does a pretty good James T. Kirk.

Another show I loved as a kid was Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, especially the bits with Lily Tomlin.  Here are some fun excerpts from that show:  Cocktail Party, Edith Ann, and Ernestine.

Bob Newhart has always been a favorite.  Both his shows were great as was his earlier stand-up routines.  I had not seen this bit from a MadTV episode until I stumbled on it the other day, but it did make me laugh.

There are a lot of great stand-up comics that consistently make me laugh:  Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bill Cosby to name a few.  Below is the classic bit “My Stuff” from George Carlin.

One last video:  A friend shared this commercial titled “Herding Cats.”  It’s a hoot!

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If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.  Robert Frost

I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh. Maya Angelou

My body needs laughter as much as it needs tears. Both are cleansers of stress. Mahagony Silverrain

Laughter is wine for the soul – laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness – the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.  Sean O’Casey

Laughter translates into any language.  Anonymous

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.  e .e. cummings

At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities. Jean Houston

Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.  Lord Byron

I have always felt that laughter in the face of reality is probably the finest sound there is and will last until the day when the game is called on account of darkness. In this world, a good time to laugh is any time you can.  Linda Ellerbee

If you become silent after your laughter, one day you will hear God also laughing, you will hear the whole existence laughing — trees and stones and stars with you.  Osho

If you would not be laughed at, be the first to laugh at yourself.  Benjamin Franklin

Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy. John Cleese

Laughter is God’s hand on the shoulder of a troubled world.  Bettenell Huntznicker

You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.  Michael Pritchard

Laughter is the language of the soul. Pablo Neruda

Counting Birthdays & Making Wishes

“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.”  Emily Dickinson

Remember when you were a kid?  It was important to be very exact when telling your age:  “I’m 7 ½” or “I’m going to be 10 in a few months,” or even “I’m almost 16,” from a 14 year old.  The milestones toward adulthood—turning 16, then 18, then finally 21—are eagerly noted and celebrated with great fanfare.   When did all that stop?

George Carlin muses about this same phenomenon, and then looks at the language we use to mark growing older once we celebrate our more adult years.  As he says, “You BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50, and MAKE it to 60.  You have built up so much speed that you HIT 70!  After that, it’s a day-by-day thing.”  Somewhere in there middle age sets in!

But even though I am now middle-aged, I have decided that I am not going to get old!  I plan to stay young at heart as long as possible.  To play games, eat ice cream, and celebrate the passing of each day.  I am going to make plans and mark off accomplishments.  I am going to decorate with balloons.  I am going to blow out candles so all my wishes come true. I might even hug a gorilla. No matter what your age—8, 18, 42, 83, 91 and holding—taking action to note your birthdays is important!  It alerts the world, you have hopes and plans for tomorrow.  As Walt Disney says, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

I am making this announcement today, because I am officially 56 ½ years old. Today! Happy Almost Birthday to me!

I am also taking the time today to report a few updates on the goals I have set for myself by the time I officially reach 57 years young.  In an earlier posting, I reported on seven goals I am working on in no particular order.  I have not started on everything, but I have made some progress. I am eating healthier, sorting and scanning my old photos, reading a book off my to-read list, and making plans to advertise my educational consulting business once the new fiscal year gets started next month.  In the next six months, I vow to get a lot done—but not before I celebrate today—and maybe even tomorrow. 

Of course, just because I am counting birthdays and refusing to grow old does not mean that I do not have aches and pains, repeat myself way too often, say things that sound just like my mother, and have more senior moments than I can remember.  But those things are part of life, so I guess they are not so bad.  And laughing over them, at myself, with others, makes everything better.  As Michael Pritchard says, “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.” 

As my gift to myself and to each of you on my 56 ½ birthday, I share this video rendition of the song “Memories.”  It makes me laugh every time I watch it—and I don’t think it is just because I forget what’s coming next. 


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