- The concept of laughter as a cure for disease lacks scientific support, but humor may indeed have significant effects on the psyche.
- Laughter relaxes us and improves our mood, and hearing jokes may ease anxiety. Amusement can also counteract pain.
- Cheerfulness, a trait that makes people respond more readily to humor, is linked to emotional resilience—the ability to keep a level head in difficult circumstances—and to close relationships. Life satisfaction may increase with the ability to laugh.
Norman Cousins, the storied journalist, author and editor, found no pain reliever better than clips of the Marx Brothers. For years, Cousins suffered from inflammatory arthritis, and he swore that 10 minutes of uproarious laughing at the hilarious team bought him two hours of pain-free sleep.
In his book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient (W. W. Norton, 1979), Cousins described his self-prescribed laughing cure, which seemed to ameliorate his inflammation as well as his pain. He eventually was able to return to work, landing a job as an adjunct professor at the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he investigated the effects of emotions on biological states and health.