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Red Skeleton, a clown for decades experienced tragedies in life, one when his young son died of leukemia. But he always returned to the stage. And before he died, he said that if he’d made people laugh, his life had been worthwhile

Laughter Is Good Medicine


By —— Bio and Archives--February 25, 2019

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Laughter Is Good MedicineYears ago I told this story. A Russian member of the Russian Ski patrol arrived home after several months on duty. A TV interviewer asked, “What do you do first after being away so long?” He replied, “I make love to my wife”. “Yes, but what do you do next?”  “I make love to my wife again”. Frustrated, the interviewer continued, “but then what do you do?” “Oh, I take off my skis”.

Then, another famous skier boasted, “I’m so fast on the ski hill that I could make love on the way down and still win the race”.

At this point readers may be saying, “Gifford-Jones, if you plan to change careers and become a comedian, don’t sell the farm”!! I won’t, but we desperately need laughter these days. And it’s always been good medicine.

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Remember how much we used to laugh when we were kids. It’s been said that laughter is our birthright. Or, as the actor Charlie Chaplin remarked, “A day without laughter is a day wasted”.

Looking back at history one proverb states, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones”.

I don’t suggest you stop exercising. But a good hearty laugh is like a mild workout. It exercises muscles, gets blood flowing, decreases blood pressure and stress hormones, improves sleep and boosts the immune system by increasing infection-fighting antibodies.

” Ha Ha” also triggers the release of endorphins, morphine-like substances, that promote a sense of well-being and help relieve pain. A lot of laughter might also help to decrease the tragic deaths from opioid use.

Today, there’s much talk about the increase in mental health problems. Laughter curtails the symptoms of depression. After all, you can’t be unhappy, angry or anxious, when you’re laughing. TV sitcoms use laugh tracks because they know laughter is also contagious.

Years ago, a man sitting next to me at a bar, had too much to drink but he gave me wise advice. He said, “Stay with the happy people”. He was right as happy people laughing strengthens relationships.

Today, with nations talking again about a nuclear arms race, we need more “Ha Ha”. Sir Max Beecham, the English writer remarked, “No one in history has been known to die from laughter”. And Alan Alda is quoted as saying, “When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing one another”.

So how about a little laugh? Red Skeleton, one of the old time comedians, told this joke years ago on the Ed Sullivan show. Two guys were at a funny farm and one says to the other, “I know a good way we can escape from here”. The other guy says, “How?”. He replies. “I’ve got a big flashlight. Tonight I’ll shine the light up the wall and you can climb up on it”.  The other guy says, “You think I’m nuts. I know what you’d do. I’d get half way up the wall and you’d turn the light off !”

A man goes to the doctor because he’s not been feeling well and wants a complete checkup. Later he returns for the results. The doctor says, “I have bad news, and some very bad news for you”. The worried patient says, “I’d like to hear the bad news first”. The doctor replies, “The tests show you have just 24 hours to live”. “My God”, the man shouts out, “how could anything be worse than that news?” The doctor says, “I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for the last 23 hours”

Now, you know why I’m warned never to sell the farm! But I hope you have the message. We need more laughter.

Red Skeleton, a clown for decades experienced tragedies in life, one when his young son died of leukemia. But he always returned to the stage. And before he died, he said that if he’d made people laugh, his life had been worthwhile.

One of my patients who had worked with Skelton told me, “Red Skelton was a funny, decent man”, a great tribute to anyone.

Let’s all enjoy a reason to laugh today.


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Dr. Gifford Jones -- Bio and Archives | Comments

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker’s website is: Docgiff.com

My book, “90 + How I Got There” can be obtained by sending $19.95 to:
Giff Holdings, 525 Balliol St, Unit # 6,Toronto, Ontario, M4S 1E1

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