Humor: The Lighter Path to Resilience and Health

By Paul McGhee, Ph.D


This book discusses the exciting findings scientists have obtained over the past 25 years for how your sense of humour supports good physical and mental health. A separate chapter discusses humour and the brain. The first studies of humour and health demonstrated humour’s ability to strengthen the immune system, reduce pain and reduce levels of stress hormones circulating in the body. These general health-promoting benefits led researchers to study the impact of humour and laughter on specific diseases. This exciting new work has now shown health benefits of humour in connection with coronary heart disease, asthma, COPD, arthritis, certain allergies and diabetes. The two cerebral hemispheres of the brain are shown to play different roles in our understanding and enjoyment of humour.


Also, specific dopamine-based pleasure centres in the brain have now been identified which account for the good feeling that results from humour and a good belly laugh. The key to understanding humour’s contribution to health and wellness is its ability to both build more positive emotion into your life and reduce feelings of anger, anxiety and depression. Humour helps provide the emotional resilience needed to meet the challenges presented by steadily increasing stress in our personal and work lives. It is a powerful tool for coping with any form of life stress, and a means of sustaining a positive, optimistic attitude toward life. Similarly, humour plays a key role in generating a happy marriage and greater happiness and life satisfaction in general. And it’s never too late to improve your sense of humour. You can learn to use humour to cope and get these benefits into your own life.

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