Laugh Therapy: New Secret to Longevity

Researchers in Norway found that among near-death patients who maintained a good sense of humor increased their odds of survival — by 31 percent![i]

Can humor really increase your longevity? It sure seems to do so in Sardinia, a blue zone region. To find out how to boost laughter, we spoke to humor expert Allen Klein—the world’s only Jollytologist!

Klein earned his humor expertise through some hard knocks. Thirty years ago, his 34-year-old wife was dying of a rare liver disease. Humor, Klein noticed, was the one thing that helped her forget her pain. After his wife’s death, Klein went back to school to study the healing power of humor. Today, he’s author of 17 books related to the subject —including this year’s release, “Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying”!

Here are his practical tips for adding more mirth to your life:

Place laughter reminders.

“I’m in my office, and I look around at reminders to help me lighten up,” Klein says. “I have a picture of Woody Allen, autographed— he’s my favorite comedian. I have Teletubby dolls, because I used to love Teletubbies. I have a picture of my daughter with a cream pie in her face. I have a rubber chicken hanging on the wall. Have reminders—things that lighten you up.”

Exaggerate annoyances.

Ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” — and continue to ask that question until your response becomes absurd. If you hate being late, ask yourself what’s the worst thing that might happen if you’re late. Perhaps your waiting friend will leave. So, what’s the worst thing that could happen if your friend leaves? Maybe she’ll be mad. And what might happen if your friend is mad? Perhaps your friend will stop being your friend. Really? Do you really think you’ll lose your friend because you’re late?

Carry a prop.

“Everyone in my workshop gets a clown nose,” Klein says. “One couple said that when an argument starts, one of them puts on a clown nose, and it’s really hard to keep the argument going.”

State a fear out loud—then say ‘Ha Ha.’

If the thought of having no money causes you to panic, state your fear out loud: “I feel panicked sometimes that I don’t have enough money,” Klein recommends. “Then say ‘Ho ho,’ or ‘Ha ha,’ or ‘Hee hee.’” You’ll likely find that your stress melts away–you’ll probably laugh instead.

Find a laugh buddy.

To get into a new rhythm of laughing more, enlist a friend to join you in regular mirth. “Have a humor buddy you can do humor e-mailing with,” Klein recommends.

[i] Svebak, Sven; Kristoffersen, Bjorn; Aasarod, Knut.  Sense of Humor and Survival Among a County Cohort of Patients with End-Stage Renal Failure: A Two-Year Prospective Study. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine. Vol. 36, No. 3, 2006. pp. 269-281.


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