I think I should have been a comedian. Not because I am particularly funny, or because I enjoy speaking in front of a crowd.
I should have been a comedian because laughing may add a few more years to my life.
In my search for wellness I suddenly realized that laughter might be a key to longevity. Many of our greatest comedians have lived long and happy lives.
We recently saw Bob Newhart perform his one-man show, and he was as lively and funny as he was in his heyday during The Bob Newhart Show and his widely acclaimed 1960s album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart.
At age 84, Bob Newhart is as bright and clever as ever; his sense of timing is still impeccable, and his dry wit and stammering delivery continue to make audiences laugh. Taking great pleasure from the love he felt from our laughter, he stood grinning from ear to ear while we stood to applaud his performance.
On the car ride home, my husband and I verbally listed comedians in their eighties and nineties who are still entertaining us, and those who, like Bob Hope and George Burns, gave us a century of laughter.
Is being a comedian the road to longevity?
Consider, if you will, this extraordinary list of people who, over the years, have brought laughter into our lives:
Shelley Berman (89)
Mel Brooks (88)
Carol Burnett (81)
Carol Channing (93)
Shecky Greene (88)
Cloris Leachman (88)
Jerry Lewis (88)
Jackie Mason (83)
Anne Meara (84)
Carl Reiner (92)
Don Rickles (88)
Doris Roberts (88)
Mort Sahl (86)
Neil Simon (87)
Jerry Stiller (87)
Dick Van Dyke (88)
Abe Vigoda (93)
Betty White (92)
And those who left us:
Milton Berle (92)
George Burns (100)
Sid Caesar (92)
Bob Hope (100)
Elaine Stritch (93)
After the recent death of legendary comedian Sid Caesar, TIME Magazine considered the relationship between comedy and longevity in their article, "Why Do Comedians Live So Long?" They came to the conclusion that the great comedians who worked in front of live audiences had to keep their minds and bodies constantly toned, with less focus on stardom, and less available drugs.
The laughter they received from the audience was instant gratification. That does a funny heart good.
I wanted to find some scientific proof on the relationship between laughter and longevity. My research lead me to a recent study done by Dr. Sven Svebak of the Medical School at Norwegian University of Science and Technology who tracked 54,000 Norwegians. He found that those who found life the funniest were the ones who were more likely to live longer than those who didn't.
Here are three easy ways to add instant laughter to your life:
Laughter yoga - Being with a group of like-minded people, who are laughing for better health, less stress and anxiety, may be a key toward wellness.
Laughter clubs - These are popping up all around the country. In the ABC News article, People in 'Laughter Groups' Giggle and Guffaw for Better Health, Dr. Michael Miller of The University of Maryland said that, "laughing opens up your arteries, allowing blood to flow more freely." He and his researchers said a few hearty laughs were as good for you as jogging up to half an hour.
Comedy shows - There are comedy shows everywhere, from local restaurants to regional theaters to Broadway. Give yourself the gift of laughter and go see a show! It's a guaranteed good time.
To every comedian who has ever given us hours of fun and laughter, I say a sincere thank you. You have given us a great gift, one that may add years to our lives.
That's the best wellness program of all.
Photo Credits: Wikipedia