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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • You could smile your way to feeling better

  • I love to people watch. I recently decided to add a little research project to my people watching. I wanted to see how many people were smiling, laughing or being silly. I have to report that I was very disappointed to discover that the majority of individuals walk around looking stern. Some even look as though they're facing the electric chair.
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  • I love to people watch. I recently decided to add a little research project to my people watching. I wanted to see how many people were smiling, laughing or being silly. I have to report that I was very disappointed to discover that the majority of individuals walk around looking stern. Some even look as though they're facing the electric chair.
    Is it my imagination or are Americans getting more serious? According to the "misery index" - there is one, believe it or not - we are becoming more miserable. You may be thinking, "Well, why shouldn't we be more miserable? Look what's going on in the world?" Yes, times have been tough. People have lost jobs, the weather has been crazy and violence seems to be an everyday fact of life. Unfortunately, we have not been educated to realize that the simple act of smiling can give you a small respite from your worries. A healthy guffaw can relax your body and help you get through your day more easily.
    My first entree into discovering the healing power of humor was when I came across an article written by Norman Cousins some 30 years ago. He was editor-in-chief of the Saturday Review. He was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an incurable spinal column illness. He tried many alternative remedies, but they had little effect. He finally decided to leave the hospital, much to the dismay of his doctors, and went home to his apartment. He then immersed himself in reading funny stories, watched comedy movies and asked friends to visit and tell him jokes. He spent hours laughing, and when he finally saw his doctors for a checkup, there was no trace of the disease. The physicians kept asking him what he had done to get the illness to go away. His response was "I laughed myself to health." He later told his story in a book, "Anatomy of an Illness."
    The connection between how the mind, emotions and the immune system relate to one another was merely speculation. We now know that this is more fact than fiction. There have even been studies on facial feedback. Your facial expressions give your brain and body messages on how to feel. It sounds so obvious, but most people are not aware of it.
    Experiment by looking mad for a while. You'll start to feel tense, and so will people around you. If you try smiling, you'll get the reverse effect. Check your face out every so often. Or ask a trusted friend what type of facial expressions he or she sees.
    Looking mad can become a habit. What's really exciting is that even if you're not in the mood, you can "fake it 'til you make it." If you smile often enough, you'll find yourself feeling better, and when you feel better, life becomes easier.
    Page 2 of 2 - Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360. Email her, visit her website at www.stressed.com

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