While this year’s flu strain is spreading like wildfire, I have very little worry that my family will fall victim. We have a secret that keeps us from getting sick — we laugh, a lot! And it turns out that researchers say a life of laughter is good for the immune system. We did not strategically plan laughter as a healthy lifestyle choice. It’s just a bonus that there are some real health benefits to telling funny stories around the dinner table, dressing in costume to watch “The Wizard of Oz” and the hilarity of a robust game of charades. Even a private snicker at the man with plumber’s pants in front of us in the grocery store line is apparently good for us. Thanks to his lack of modesty we may actually live longer.
The good news is that we are all born with the ability to give ourselves this kind of health boost since laughter is something embedded in our DNA. Infants begin smiling in the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months. I’ll never forget the day our first born laughed hysterically for the first time. He was only 6 months old and the sound of ripping paper had him giggling with gusto. We didn’t teach that — God embedded it. Now researchers are explaining why. From studying laughter’s effects on the body, we are beginning to understand how vital it is to our overall well-being.