About the Colony

A hearty laugh is good medicine

I love to laugh. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t practice some form of laughter, from a slight smile to a hearty belly laugh. Some laugh easier than others, but that doesn’t matter, although I believe the bigger the laugh, the more potent the medicine.

I was browsing through The Tribune earlier in the week and for some reason zeroed in on the Health Calendar. There I discovered “laughter wellness classes” available Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. I had no idea.

There aren’t any such classes up here in Atascadero that I know of. That’s too bad.

Laughter has always been a part of my life. I can credit my dad for that. He always found the “funny” in life and would scold my brother or me if we walked around the house with a sour face.

In the service club I belong to, we celebrate Jon Lovgren Bad Joke Day once a year, usually in April or May. Lovgren was an Atascadero police sergeant who had a million really very silly but funny jokes. Unfortunately, he passed away much too early, so our Kiwanis Club encourages its members to save up those silly and more-often-than-not juvenile jokes for one whole meeting. They must be clean.

The Atascadero club meets at 7 a.m., and the benefit of those 45 minutes of laughter lasts for days.

I remember that the writer Norman Cousins wrote a lot about the benefits of humor and its ability to cure. The longtime editor-in-chief of The Saturday Review contended that a patient’s attitude can combat grave illness.

Cousins pushed for people to hold “celebrations of life” instead of funerals for loved ones. He thought it was a wonderful way to say goodbye.

As one news announcement read for the local wellness class, “practice playful, guided, stress-releasing movements, voluntary laughter, deep breathing and life-affirming interactions.” Another simply says, “Experience the healing benefits of laughter.”

Fortunately, laughter comes in many forms, whether it’s screening a Marx brothers film or watching the GOP debates.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.