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Laughter Is Best Medicine

I found out about the death of legendary Phyllis Diller when I stepped on a pile of red roses that rested on top of her star on the St Louis Walk of Fame in the Delmar Loop. It was August 20, my birthday.

This beloved queen of self deprecating one liners who wore wacky wigs, laughed like a hyena, and paved the way for female comedians, is enshrined here because St. Louis was her home early in her career. She moved to Webster Groves in 1961 and got her first break on the Charlotte Peters Show, followed by acts in local clubs, such as Gaslight Square’s Crystal Palace.

To this day, moms everywhere live by her motto, “They say housework can’t kill you, but why take the chance?”

Watch her farewell stand-up performance here:

Anyway, as I turned another year closer to the half century milestone, I admired how many famous funny people live long lives. Phyllis Diller was 95 and George Burns and Bob Hope both made it to 100. Maybe laughter is the best medicine.

After all, laughing is more contagious than a sneeze or a cough, and giggling is good for the body and soul. Ever notice when someone laughs you feel connected to them and start to smile before you even know the punch line? It’s impossible to feel anxious, angry, or sad when you bust a gut laughing.

According to scientists, laughter:

• increases happiness and intimacy by triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals
• decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies
• boosts energy
• relieves physical tension, pain, and stress, leaving muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes

• protects the heart by improving the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems

So, how can you add more laughter in your life?

• Watch a funny movie or TV show.
• Go to a comedy club.
• Read a comic strip or humor book.
• Hang out with funny (or funny-looking) people.
• Share a good joke or a funny story.
• Host game night with friends.
• Play with a pet.
• Go to a “laughter yoga” class.
• Goof around with children.
• Do something silly, like sit on a whoopee cushion.

Farting is funny, I don’t know why.