Laugh Away the Pain? It’s Evolutionary.

Once upon a time, Charlie Chaplin said, "Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain." Last week, The New York Times agreed. The reported on a recent study which found that,"laughing increased pain resistance." In this story, the science of modern times sides with the clown. The Oxford study also suggests that laughter has provided primates with an age-old evolutionary advantage.

Oxford evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar concluded that laughter triggers endorphins that allowed test subjects to resist pain longer. Test subjects watched a variety of video. Some subjects watched "The Simpsons," Eddie Izzard routines, and other comedy clips. Other participants watched  footage considered feel-good without being funny, like nature programs. Others  were subjected to boring- er- 'neutral' golf and pet training videos. All participants were monitored for laughter during the shows. The participants who laughed proved better able to withstand pain resistance tests adminstered after watching the videos. Another experiment, conducted live at an Oxford Imps improv show, supported the findings that laughter eases pain. 

The study reports that laughter, not just a general sense of well being, is key to the endorphin response and pain relief. Dr. Dunbar hypothesizes that laughter has been key to the social evolution of primates. Like singing, dancing, and other physical activities, shared laughter strengthens group bonds. A laugh today may play tonic to your pain, and shared giggling echoes age-old evolutionary rewards. I think may be time to rewatch Charlie Chaplin…

Dunbar's study was published in the proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences.

Laugh it up!

Alicia

Laugh and Eat Chocolate! It’s Good for Your Heart!

Chocolate Any fool knows that laughing and eating chocolate will make you feel good. Now scholars agree too! Let's sing it from the rooftops! (And support it with peer-reviewed science!) "EAT CHOCOLATE AND BE MERRY! Your heart will thank you!"

As explored in blogs past, laughing helps the heart. It reduces stress and increases healthy hormones in the same way exercise does. (Check out my blog entry 'How Many Chuckles = a Chinup?") Add to that happy science a recent study which discovered that habitual chocolate eaters showed a 37% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and 29% reduced risk of stroke.

It sounds too good to be true. No- this study was not sponsored by the Bay Area Hedonists Club. Scientists from the University of Cambridge announced the news at the European Society of Cardiology convention at the end of August. The respected British Medical Journal published the findings. Any google search yields pages of slavering support. It must be true! 

So, is "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" passé? Probably not. Researchers caution that there are plenty of unhealthy ingrediants in chocolate treats. Going hog wild with calorific chocolate pudding on a regular basis is more likely to damage your heart. However, 'plain' chocolate (the less added sugar the better) can be considered healthy. So relax, chuckle, and chew a little chocolate while savoring the concluding words of the University of Cambridge study:

"Based on observational evidence, levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Further experimental studies are required to confirm a potentially beneficial effect of chocolate consumption."

This fool may volunteer for the Cambridge crew's next experiment!

Of course, you all know by now that I'm on a refined-sugar-free diet, so I make most of my own chocolate, and I like to keep it all raw…  no cane sugar for me! I make it all with maple syrup or coconut palm sugar… I keep trying to make a stevia-sweetened chocolate… and keep failing..  But I digress…  

Ha ha ha! Hee hee hee! 

Alicia 

 

These be my sources, yo:

"Study: Laughter and Chocolate Can Boost Heart Health." Huffington Post. August 29, 2011.

"Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-anaylsis." British Medical Journal. August 29, 2011

Vision and Heart

Collage
In my creativity coaching practice, I work (and play!) with artists who want to elevate their lives to a new level.  I work with people who have never picked up a guitar but really want to play, and I work with people who are long-time artists who want to make a living at their art and finally quit their day job. 

I believe there are a million ways to be creative, and that the most important thing is to give your gift to the world.  It doesn't matter if you make money at it or not.  That's up to you, and if it's your dream to make a living doing your art, I can help you with that.  Hell, if it's your dream to make a living making sculptures from discarded subway signs, I can help you with that. 

I delight in guiding people along the path they set out for themselves.  It's one of the most fun things in the world to watch someone truly, deeply want something, dedicate themselves to it, and achieve it.  And I'm going to tell you a secret:  the final goal is never as satisfying as the process… in fact, some of the biggest pleasures are in really feeling and articulating what you want. 

That's why, the first thing I do with my clients is to get crystal clear on what they want.  We explore what sensations, what colors, what textures, what emotions, what values, and what truths you want to express.  We create a visual representation of that vision that you hold in your heart.  And then we create concrete aims out of that vision.  Your heart and mind are keepers of your vision, and the fire in your belly is the fuel.  When everything you do emanates from your highest vision, and your actions are aligned, you can't help but find fulfillment, spread inspiration, and achieve your aims.

A great way to hold your vision is to make a collage.  Get a bunch of magazines, cut out the images that appeal to your deepest sense of yourself, paste them together, and then post your collage in a prominent place in your home. 

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        "Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so you shall become.  Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil."

        -James Allen, As a Man Thinks