Monday, April 11, 2011
Laughing and Adaptive Competence
Laughter probably isn't in the catalog of medication research Big Pharma is churning out, but it would be a bonanza if a company could bottle it. We know in the back of our frizzled brains that stress causes damage to the body. Depression burns out cells. High blood pressure fries wiring. Overload an electrical outlet and watch what happens. Poof, sizzle, done. An article today by Dr. Mark Lachs, author of Treat Me, Not My Age, refers to research that showed people who believed things were getting worse as they age died sooner than their contemporaries who thought otherwise. Longevity is genetic, but adaptive competence helps. How bouncy is your brain? Another article about memory loss describes cognitive reserve. This extra oomph is also genetically determined, but can be supplemented by education, both formal and stimulating life experience, friends and exercise. Laughter lowers blood pressure, tickles dopamine and serotonin output in a good way, and makes all the life stuff seem lighter. Attend fully the next time you get really mad. Feel the cellular weight, the heightened heart action, lung volume, constricted brain blood flow? Attend the next time you laugh. Feel the difference? We need more laughter to pump up the volume in our cognitive reserve tank, preserve neural pathways and enjoy the journey, even when the path is rock strewn, uphill and slippery. Laughter is your new best friend in the bodymind backpack. Take it out for a stroll more often.