Every three weeks we have a Lobby Book Display at Central Library on a different theme or topic. Some topics are naturally more popular than others. However, "Laugh Out Loud" in the month of March was such a favorite that we found it difficult to keep books on the display. The books were fiction and nonfiction titles that were generally written to make people laugh.
Now, I've always known about the importance of laughter since I first saw the "Laughter is the Best Medicine" section in Reader's Digest as a child. And as an adult, I learned about the psychology of laughter while studying Norman Cousins in my college psychology classes and later in a cancer support group I attended. But none of this prepared me for the speed at which those humorous books flew off the book display.
Just about the time I was preparing the book display, I heard that the economic recession was having an effect on the demand for humorous speakers.
Then, about two weeks ago came a news story regarding a new scientific study by Dr. Lee Berk which shows that "mirthful laughter" can raise good cholesterol, reduce inflammation and reduce levels of three detrimental stress hormones in high risk diabetic patients. And, according to a 2006 study by Dr. Berk, just the anticipation of laughter can boost health-protecting hormones and reduce potentially harmful ones.
Next, I discovered that May 3 was World Laughter Day and that it was being promoted by a group who practices Laughter Yoga. Who knew!
So, this got me thinking. Are people attracted to humorous things because they feel better just thinking about that funny stuff? Do they subconsciously know that a laugh is just what they need to get them through these stressful times we live in? Well, I think so.
So my proposition is this: Why not pull a humorous book or movie off the shelf every time you visit the library. Hold it in your hand and look at it often. Even if you don't ever get around to reading it or watching it, just the anticipation alone should be enough to make you feel better. And if you do read or watch it, just think of all those health-protecting chemicals that will be floating around inside you for the next 12 to 24 hours.