World Smile Day

1 October is Smile Day. It was created by Harvey Ball, a commercial artist and inventor of the smiley, in 1999.

He thought one should be friendly one day a year. I think we should be friendly and smile every day. We are sure to get something in return.

dancing on the beach

Six million years ago.

Laughing is a primal need

Our laughter did not sound like it does today from the beginning, it has developed gradually. It is possible that the specific human sound was created when our early ancestors split off from the primates, i.e. between 4.6 and 6.2 million years ago.

16 million years ago.

Actual laughter is much older. It goes back as far as 16 million years. That's when the common ancestors of man and ape lived.

This is what the biologist Marina Davila Ross from the University of Portsmouth says Read more

In the Bible

Withered limbs

A cheerful heart is good for the body, / a depressed mind makes the limbs wither. Proverbs 17

A merry heart

One English translation says a happy heart is like medicine.


Health centre vs. hospital/Krankenhaus

Known as the spiritual father of humor medicine is the American doctor Hunter "Patch" Adams, born 1945, whose work and life is described in a Hollywood movie. The aim of Adams' work was psychological: to improve the quality of life of patients by supporting the healing process through humour, among other things. In 1971 Adams founded a health institute as a hospital, which pursued its goal in practical therapy.

Woman laughing

Why we should laugh today

We communicated by laughing before we started talking to each other. When was the last time you had a really good laugh? 300 muscles tense up when you laugh, 17 of which are in our face. That sounds like sports. Basically, it's like a workout, too. After a meeting up with friends having fun and lots of laughing we get sore muscles. Laughing is healthy and does us good. As a complementary therapy after a heart attack, doctors use laughter. Because after the tension comes relaxation and the lowering of blood pressure.

Laughing is a multitasker with many talents. It invigorates relationships. When we are having an argument, sometimes one person says something and it becomes clear that the whole thing is just silly and we begin to laugh. Laughing together makes you more resilient. Laughter is healing. It can be like a band-aid or an ointment on wounds, dissolving resentment.

Humour can bring people together in difficult times.

You don't have to speak a language to laugh with others.


Laughter nevertheless

I know there are many reasons not to laugh now. Chronic illness presents us with hurdles every day. Corona has been affecting our lives for quite some time now. We have no idea what the future holds. You will always find reasons not to laugh, but should you?

Experience and studies have shown that laughter can be an effective medicine for body and soul in many ways. Our pain, whether physical, mental or social, seems less burdening when we laugh. Bending over with laughter, not being able to stop because something is so funny. And the feeling afterwards, remember that? Laughing balances the mind and body. It changes the image in your head. What was bothering you before no longer feels such a threat. It makes your soul receptive to hope. And although you can laugh alone and feel these effects just as well, laughing together connects you. Have you laughed with someone else while you were waiting in line or on the bus? It breaks the ice. Laughter can be a kind of wake-up mechanism. It makes you more alert and focused. And if you get crazy, laughing brings you back down to earth.

 Laughter doesn't only change you

If you have read my article Move it, you know that I am very much in favour of uncomplicated healing methods that do not break the bank. Well, here's another one.

We know that laughing alone or even just smiling can have an effect, but it is even better if your laughter is contagious or others manage to infect you with their laughter and joy. I'm sure you've laughed about something insignificant before. Suddenly everyone is laughing and can't stop. At some point, no one knows what they are laughing at anymore. You feel closer to someone when you laugh with them. But you don't just feel good, you are well. Laughing triggers changes in your body. It gives your immune system a real boost and it raises your energy level. It can reduce the sensation of pain and protects you from the adverse effects of stress. And all this at no cost. And it doesn't stop there, laughter not only changes you, but also the way others see you and your perspective on what is going on.


Laughter makes you more attentive

In fact, laughter can improve cognitive function. Researchers found in a study published in the FASEB Journal in 2016 that laughter can put your brain in a state where you can think more clearly. Psychologist Jennifer Aaker, Ph.D., says humor can help you relax more and feel emotionally safe - something that gives your brain more power to be creative.

Laughter protects your heart

Yes, laughter protects our heart. According to the Cleveland Clinic of Medicine, laughter immediately increases blood flow to the heart. A regular increase can reduce the risk of most heart diseases. Research from the American Physiological Society also found that laughter, as part of diabetes therapy, helped increase good cholesterol in the body and reduce inflammation, keeping the heart healthier overall.

Laughter strengthens your defences

Combating diseases. According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, people who laugh often have elevated levels of activated T cells and natural killer cells. These help to protect your body from cancer, infections and other diseases.

Laughter improves the mood

Release endorphins. According to a study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, laughing improves the absorption of oxygen-rich air, stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the amount of endorphins released by your brain.

Laughing A complementary therapy

All these effects achieved by laughter are the result of laughing as a complementary therapy, not as a stand-alone therapy.

 A funny story?

I sent this story to my friends on the occasion of my naturalization test in 2018 to relieve my frustration a little. They laughed their heads off.

Today was my naturalization test!

You'd think - No problem! After all, I've lived here since 1981.

When I registered and the lady asked me if I had attended a preparation course, I in turn asked if I could have learned something there that I had not experienced in 37 years here. "She said, "I don't think so.

I usually come to appointments way too early. Because I hate being late. The appointment was at 2:00 pm in Kirchheim. Usually it takes 40 minutes from here at the most.

"Don't overdo it today," I thought, "you leave at 12:45." And since Amabel had often told me stories of rumbling stomachs during exams at school, I cooked myself some lunch.

I recently acquired a used, but still very sharp mandolin (you can cut very thin slices with it). Also from fingertips!

And you're guessing right - yes, today it was my finger. The index finger on the right hand, completely irrelevant when writing, of course. The blood just shot out, as if I hadn't just cut my finger, but slaughtered something in the kitchen, that's what it looked like there. I had walked between the bathroom and kitchen and there were bloodstains everywhere. A plaster was not enough, it had to be a pressure bandage. Try to apply a pressure bandage with one hand!

Then I had to call Jens and explain the bloodstains to him, because I couldn't clean them away, I only had time to gobble down lunch.

Of I hurreid. Registration confirmation - forgotten, passport - luckily I had that.

I didn't drive on the motorway at all - Friday - holidays in other federal states - no, but there were traffic jams everywhere, really everywhere. And not only that, there were detours everywhere - really one after the other, and construction sites. Soon I really started to lose my nerves in the car.

I no longer saw myself coming much too early, but much too late, and then I started to get nervous, it was completely out of my control. There was no reason for it, but to be late, that was out of the question. And what can I say, I really arrived at the very last second, because also in Kirchheim nothing was as it usually is. Then I turn the page to start the test and what do I read? "How many days is a week?" I think, guys hey are you kidding me now...... Are you? The Bundestag, state legislature, federal planning commission, and they're asking me how many days a week there are. Until I realized that this was the explanation question, how to correct something if you change your mind, because the test is corrected automatically. The result was to be sent to me in 4 weeks. After that it was ok, except for the trip home, which was similar to the trip there, only I didn't have an appointment to get to  anymore.

So the next time I will leave at least 2 hours before! That's for sure.

If I had done it today, I wouldn't have cut my finger and and and and...

Vera Birkenbuhl was a management trainer with a great sense of humour. Her lectures were legendary. She said that humour only works when we are affected, "in the mood".

He says "We can use our perspective to connect with other people. Have a look at his TED Talk about : The Skill of Humour

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 Laughter in hospital

I know Eckart von Hirschhausen mainly as a cabaret artist, presenter and the voice that often made me laugh driving my car while listening to his audio books. Sometimes his words also moved me. We are not always in agreement. Through him I got to know the song Perhaps Love by John Denver, which already accompanied me in special situations. Dr. med. Eckart von Hirschhausen is a specialist in child and youth psychiatry. He continues to follow the approach of Patch Adams to support the healing process here in Germany, among other things by using humour. The foundation Humor Hilft Heilen - HHH was created from this.

In 2016 he gave a lecture for medical students in the Institute of General Medicine at the Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main on the subject of humour. He encouraged the prospective doctors to integrate humour into their everyday medical life. Probably students of medicine already have quite high expectations of themselves, not to mention the expectations that come from outside. Dissatisfaction is almost the order of the day, because not all expectations can be fulfilled. Hirschhausen said happiness is expectation management. German hospitals can afford to allow humour. The clearly positive effects it has on health could be used in the healing process and in everyday medical life. I often had the impression during my inpatient stays that young doctors don´t have much to laugh about.

A more personal approach to both patients and colleagues, as well as a positive climate that promotes social relationships, resilience, trust and belonging, is desirable, as all this is also beneficial to health.

With hope, he said, "The economy has driven the magic out of medicine, but not out of us humans."

This is an interview in English with Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen about comedy, humour and medicine. Doctor of Medicine and Man of Humour

You've probably heard of the hospital clowns that do amazing things every day. But there's a lot more going on now. In Münster, a teaching concept has been tested in nursing schools since mid-2019 "Caring withJoy" You can read more about him, the foundation and its goals and work here: A short bio in English 

The foundation's work will certainly bear fruit, and we all benefit from it. We can also support it by allowing humour to enter into our daily lives with the disease. Whether at home, at the doctor's or at the hospital.

"Humour is common sense dancing."

English proverb

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Bölten, G. B. (2020, August 24). Is laughter healthy? planetwissen.

Bujok, J. B. (2016). Magic Teaching: Humor Helps Healing.

Krämer, T.K. (2009, June 4). Evolution Mature Laughter.

P.K. & C.M. (2019, October 4). Today is the day of smiles.

Robinson, L. R., Smith, M. S. & Segal, J. S. (2019, November). Laughter is the best medicine.

The Gesundheit! Institute. (o. J.). The Gesundheit! Institutes. Retrieved September 6, 2020, from

Trifone, D. T. (2020, January 19). Humor and Health: The Surprising Connection. Thrive Global.


Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash

Photo by Kayla Farmer on Unsplash