Have you ever noticed how comedians tend to live long lives? Take the iconic Bob Hope and George Burns, for instance. Both men lived to be 100 years old! What if the key to living longer lives was not taking life too seriously, but harboring a healthy sense of humor and kindly laughing at the challenges life throws our way? A recent study conducted over a fifteen year period may just be proof that having a healthy sense of humor can actually prolong our lives.
The benefits of laughter are well known, and many studies have been conducted to show the benefits of laughter. There are even seminars taught at hospitals about how “Laughter is Good Medicine.” Laughter:
- Increases oxygen intake and blood flow
- Reduces blood pressure
- Decreases cortisol levels, alleviating stress, tension and anxiety
- Minimizes inflammation
- Protects the heart and strengthens blood vessels
- Boosts the immune system
- Relieves pain
- Triggers the release of endorphins, promoting a sense of well-being
In his book Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins even describes how he was even able to cure himself of a degenerative spinal condition, simply by watching old comedy movies and laughing!
In the spring of 2016, a new study was published by Norwegian researchers that confirmed that having a sense of humor was positively correlated to living a longer life. They tracked 53,556 participants over a fifteen year period, and scored their level of humor, cross correlating that with heart diseases, infections, cancer and lung diseases.
What they found was nothing less than astounding. For women that scored highly on the cognitive sense of humor index, the researchers found they were almost 50 percent less likely to die from any cause, with an almost 75 percent lower risk of death from heart disease. For men, those with high sense of humor indexes had an almost 75 percent reduced risk of dying from infections. In general, they found that those with high cognitive humor indexes in their study lived to at least 85 years of age.
Finally, there is some hard data to back up what we have anecdotally suspected. Having a good sense of humor can actually prolong your life, reducing your risk of dying from heart disease or infection. So, if we wish to live longer lives, let us learn from the likes of Bob Hope and George Burns, and learn to laugh at ourselves and not take life too seriously. Perhaps we, too, can live to be 100 years old.