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Laughter and Immunity

Laughter makes people feel better. Norman Cousins, an American journalist (1915-1990) is credited with jump-starting this research. When Cousins developed acute rheumatoid arthritis in late 1970, he checked into a major hospital in New York, but the treatments and regimen left him totally dissatisfied: blood tests throughout the day, unpalatable food, and constant suffering. Cousins promptly checked out of the hospital and into a hotel. He arranged to have his doctor visit him and concentrated the required medical tests. Meanwhile, he ate delicious food, took high doses of Vitamin C, and watched laughter-provoking films. The result was an improvement in his symptoms. Cousin published his experience as, "Anatomy of an Illness" in leading medical journals. His writings inspired the movement in the United States toward a more humanistic approach in medicine and combining the tenets and insights of eastern and traditional medicine with western medicine.

We now know that humor increases immunity in patients and inhibits elevation of blood sugar level and blood pressure. Laughter affects the emotions, and in a broad sense, is considered to stimulate the limbic system in the central cerebrum. It is widely known that when sick children, even those with contagious diseases, receive warm care, their immunity increases and the result is faster recovery. This indicates that we need to think in terms of a new science called "science of life emotions" that would study the positive emotions that promote physical well-being. If we want to children to grow up healthy in mind and body, we need to think hard about the type of child-rearing, pre-school education, and school education that will allow them to fully experience the joy of play, the joy of learning, and "joie de vivre" with their entire being.
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