Cheerfulness has a beautiful lubricating power. It lengthens the life of human machinery, as lubricants prolong the life of inert machinery. Life’s delicate bearings should not be carelessly ground away for mere lack of oil. What is needed is a habit of cheerfulness, to enjoy every day as we go along; not to fret and stew all the week, and then expect to make up for it Sunday or on some holiday. It is not a question of amusement so much as of cheerfulness; not alone that which accompanies laughter, but serenity,–a calm, sweet soul-contentment and inward peace. Are there not multitudes of people who have the “blues,” who yet wish well to their neighbors? They would say kind words and make the world happier–but they “haven’t the time.
To lead them to look on the sunny side of things, and to take a little time every day to speak pleasant words, is the message of the hour.” If everybody knew the power of laughter as a health tonic and life prolonger the tinge of sadness which now clouds the American face would largely disappear, and many physicians would find their occupation gone.
The power of laughter was given us to serve a wise purpose in our economy. It is Nature’s device for exercising the internal organs and giving us pleasure at the same time.
Laughter begins in the lungs and diaphragm, setting the liver, stomach, and other internal organs into a quick, jelly-like vibration, which gives a pleasant sensation and exercise, almost equal to that of horseback riding. During digestion, the movements of the stomach are similar to churning. Every time you take a full breath, or when you cachinnate well, the diaphragm descends and gives the stomach an extra squeeze and shakes it. Frequent laughing sets the stomach to dancing, hurrying up the digestive process. The heart beats faster and sends the blood bounding through the body. “There is not,” says Dr. Green, “one remotest corner or little inlet of the minute blood-vessels of the human body that does not feel some wavelet from the convulsions occasioned by a good hearty laugh.” In medical terms, it stimulates the vasomotor centers, and the spasmodic contraction of the blood vessels causes the blood to flow quickly. Laughter accelerates the respiration, and gives warmth and glow to the whole system. It brightens the eye, increases the perspiration, expands the chest, forces the poisoned air from the least-used lung cells, and tends to restore that exquisite poise or balance which we call health, which results from the harmonious action of all the functions of the body. This delicate poise, which may be
destroyed by a sleepless night, a piece of bad news, by grief or anxiety, is often wholly restored by a good hearty laugh.
There is, therefore, sound sense in the caption,–“Cheerfulness as a Life Power,”–relating as it does to the physical life, as well as the mental and moral; and what we may call it “The Laugh Cure.”
Author: Orison Swett Marden