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Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

Posted April 10, 2017 10:42 AM by IronWoman

I’m sure several of you, like me, have heard that laughter is the best medicine. While it seems like a corny saying mainly heard in sentimental sitcoms – I’m looking at you, Full House; cut it out –, there have been studies conducted to prove the theory. Below is research claiming laughter improves a person’s mood, immune system, social skills, and more. Read on and be the guy who’s got jokes and is always good for a laugh!

On April 22, 2014, Yagana Shah wrote a piece on laughter in The Huffington Post. Shah states researchers at California’s Loma Linda University studied twenty adults, ages sixty to seventy, measuring stress levels and short term memory in two separate groups: one watching funny videos and the other doing nothing, both for twenty minutes. Once the time had passed, saliva samples were taken, and memory tests were administered, it was found that the humor group performed better with memory recall than did the boring group (43.6% v. 20.3%) and that the former showed lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in their blood streams. Vanderbilt University and the University of Maryland are also cited by Shah as analyzing the health benefits of laughter, VU conducting a study proving ten to fifteen minutes of laughter a day burns forty calories and UM concluding that a sense of humor can ward off heart disease.

In June 2014, National Geographic’s Susan Brink posted an article titled Is Laughter the Best Medicine? This piece, however, finds “thin science” to back up the age-old motto. According to Brink, “[m]ost [studies] rely on self-reported assessments [from the participants].” Moreover, Brink’s sources suggest that being around inappropriate or mean-spirited laughter actually increases one’s stress. That being said, Michael Miller – director of The Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University Medical Center in Baltimore, MD – conducted a study with twenty volunteers, two groups either given a sad or funny movie. The result was a 22% increase in blood flow for the funny group, while blood flow was actually restricted for those watching sad movies. Still, Miller states that you have to laugh out loud: a good belly laugh releases endorphins from the brain, sending nitric oxide into the blood vessels, ultimately widening those vessels while increasing blood flow, lessening inflammation, clumping, and cholesterol.

In September 2011, Phallab Ghosh’s BBC News article claimed that the chemicals released when laughing work as a natural painkiller. In a similar fashion to other researchers, the scientists proved that – by studying groups exposed to comedy v. boring shows – belly laughers were able to withstand 10% more pain than before the test, while those watching boring shows were less able than before to withstand pain. The analysts again stressed that only belly laughs were successful – those that empty the lungs and pain the stomach release the endorphins.

The Telegraph’s 2013 piece Now There’s Proof: Laughter Really is the Best Medicine touches on the same reasons for and evidence of the benefits of belly laughs. Author Sarah Rainey received testimonials from those involved in what is called the “Laughter Line,” a telephone exercise conducted by the UK Laughter Network, where several participants of varying age groups claim that laughing with one another over the phone once a week has helped them to de-stress, increase energy levels, and even avoid relapses from potentially debilitating diseases. This class, and other light-hearted activities such as Laughter Yoga, has proven to be a unique and successful form of exercise; UK’s Laughter Network is now celebrating thirteen years treating well over 8,000 people. Still, Lotte Mikkelson (founder of Laughter Line) wants to remind people that these activities are used as a method of coping, not a cure.

Overall, there is some truth in laughter being the best medicine; with the Mayo Clinic and Help Guide’s most recent articles on the subject (2016 and 2017), both discuss how laughter affects those sociologically. Not only does a chortle soothe tension and increase personal satisfaction, it also gives individuals the ability to deal with difficult situations, diffuse conflict, enhance teamwork, and connect with others, ideally becoming more focused and accomplished while releasing inhibitions.

So, how can you help yourself laugh a little more? It may be easier than you think. First, to develop a sense of humor researchers suggest remaining light-hearted and positive, avoiding negative thinking and learning to laugh at yourself. Laugh every day – acting like a child at times – and deal with stress head-on in an effective way. Second, surround yourself with playful people, cute animals (my personal go-to), and fun activities. But, as the Mayo Clinic urges, “[d]on’t laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren’t appropriate.” Lastly, partaking in a class such as Laughter Yoga or the Laughter Line may be just the prescription you need to turn that frown upside-down. Try it, pass it along, and let the good times R.O.F.L.!

References

The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/laughter-and-memory_n_5192086.html

National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140606-laughter-jokes-medicine-health-science-laughing-yoga/

BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-14889165

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/alternative-medicine/10149577/Now-theres-proof-laughter-really-is-the-best-medicine.html

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456?pg=2

Help Guide: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm

Laughter Yoga Homepage: http://laughteryoga.org/about-laughter-yoga/

UK Laughter Network: http://www.laughternetwork.co.uk/index.html

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#1

Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 10:52 AM

Makes me wonder, if genuine laughter has health benefits, does that mean fake laughter is harmful to the body and brain? Great post--now I want to go and do something silly!

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#2
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 11:08 AM

Fake laughter is likely to result in contagious bonafide laughter after only a few minutes of belly shaking in jest.

Do the jelly test on bread. If it lands face up, it is your lucky day! Five second rule.

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#3
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 11:11 AM

Interesting question! While I can't seem to find research suggesting fake laughter is harmful to the laughers themselves, I have found quite a few articles stating that people's brains can distinguish between another individual's genuine and fake laugh. I guess we better think twice before pity laughing at a bad joke!

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#4
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 11:32 AM

If the world has "progressed" so that one may not even find pity, then where are we now? It seems that certain politicians (unnamed) cannot produce a sincere smile or laugh. The strain is too much for them.

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#5
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 12:28 PM

Haha, really? already?

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#34
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 7:04 PM

If you are looking for examples of fake laughter, then try to include watching a few movies with Burt Lancaster, who was possibly a past master of the fake laugh...

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#38
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/12/2017 8:47 AM

I would call the laugh track on almost any TV program fake laughter. It may have been recorded real laughter, but is inserted where someone else thinks is appropriate.

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#41
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/12/2017 9:31 AM

Actually, that is called "seed" laughter. It is supposed to seed the clouds with laughter and make it rain. I will be hear all week, if my ears don't totally stop up again.

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#6
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 1:16 PM

could act like a placebo effect...

I would say that attitude does play a big part in ones health. There was studies done through this century, such as watching comedies and the benefits it had on ones health.

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#7

Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 1:28 PM

I do enjoy a good laugh. My avatar should be a pretty good indicator of that. However, while I'm not certain that laughter can help (it certainly can't hurt), I'm a little concerned that the control group in this study did NOTHING. That would be stressful to me. It seems a better control group would one that watched some nature documentary and the other group watched something funny. Maybe the control group should have watched C-SPAN or one of the Presidential debates. Ooooh, bad choice for control group programming.

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#8
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 1:33 PM

I myself, try to avoid negative situational people... it serves me well.

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#11
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 1:42 PM

What about negative non-situational people?? Are those OK?

I avoid imaginary people around here at work (known to be a battle site between Comanches and Col. MacKenzie's cavalry). Several around here have been tapped on the shoulder by "no one", or have been pushed slightly from behind, when no one is there. I have smelled strong human body odor (typical of those that never take a bath) in several areas when no one is there, and no one in the plant has hygiene issues.

Not that I believe in a lot of paranormal mumbo-jumbo, just sayin' sumting wong.

Another point: Positive people create positive results, sometimes without even really trying.

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#12
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 1:50 PM

What about negative non-situational people?? Are those OK?

Only on Tuesdays.... between 2pm-4pm, and they need a permission slip from their mother.

Another point: Positive people create positive results, sometimes without even really trying.

I have to agree with that. But the attitude has to at least appear genuine... I know of managers that have graduate degrees on managing people. They at times have a very hard time pulling that off... I need to bring up the point of them not trying to, and just give the assignment and let the people run with that.

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#13
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 2:09 PM

How is it that there is actually a degree in that? Did someone leave the door to the asylum open again last night?

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#14
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 2:24 PM

on the likes of human resources, psychology (have to be careful with these people) and/or organizational management

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#9
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 1:36 PM

In other news, it appears that watching C-SPAN is known to induce comas in 90% of viewers. (This has been a report on the street from fake fakey fake news inc.)

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#10
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 1:38 PM

The truth is,... they were comatose before they began watching....

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#23
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 9:12 AM

Yep! You'd have to be comatose to watch politics in action on CSPAN.

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#15
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 2:38 PM

I agree that some of the studies are a bit wonky, although Miller's sad v. funny movie focus groups seem like a step in the right direction in regards to accuracy. Develop a few studies to test out your theories and fill us in on the results.

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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 3:09 PM

"Develop a few studies to test out your theories and fill us in on the results. "

Ha, like anybody has time for that....I have to go and check the beach, make sure it's still there, then swing over to where my car is parked to make sure that's still there, if I can remember where I parked it, then have some breakfast, but first I have to decide what to eat, I have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, not sure I believe that, but not one to argue a moot point, then I have to check what's on TV, there's the "Better Call Saul" marathon leading up to this seasons launch, then at some point I have to check the mail, not good to let that pile up, then there's that neverending chore of laundry, then I have to answer all the questions here, then I have to work on my new film production, but first must decide what it's going to be, and that's just this morning's schedule, actually after noon, see I'm already behind....I mean I don't have a minute to spare....

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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 3:38 PM

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#18
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 4:16 PM

Now you have surpassed your usual multi-media standards and shattered two mirrors with one short clip. Oh the humanity of it all.

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#28
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 12:26 PM

Laughter is simply our psychological pressure-release valve...

Oh, the levity of it all...

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#29
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 1:38 PM

Why do we always elect actors or rich people to lead the government, they're the only ones with egos big enough to think they can fix everything...

Oh, the absurdity of it all....

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#30
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 1:45 PM

I feel someone starting to get a bit touchy with the political button. The only ones I see saying they will "fix" everything, are the career politicians, community organizers, etc. that promise a lot everything and deliver nothing.

A word of caution to those (including me) that continually judge others: you will be judged by the same measure you use to judge others. Trust me on this, I have it on good authority this is true.

There is a difference between saying and doing, and there is a difference between outright lying, and making good on promises. So before you say anything else, hold out your hands and see who fills which hand up with good, and which hand fills with hot air or B.S.

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#31
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 1:58 PM

That's not true,... we elect people that are penniless, that failed in the private sector, they become a career politician and retire multi-millionaires with great benefits and pensions to boot.

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#32
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 2:12 PM

Can someone please either delete him or his picture, I am retching internally again.

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#33
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 2:16 PM

sorry,... it was just a good example of a poor example.

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#19

Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/10/2017 11:15 PM

Australia, NewZealand and the World lost a witty satirist on Sunday ...
called JOHN CLARKE.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-MMUMPJUQI
He has made the mockumentary of a few minutes into a complete artform
with his straight man Bryan Dawe. He also had a mockumentary about
the Olympic Games where the 100m running track was not quite 100m.
A fun engineering outcome!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5TewuwFkUo

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#25
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 10:51 AM

Mockumentary?

Cripes that sounds like standard project review meeting with most contractors regardless of what job was done by them.

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#26
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 11:06 AM

John Clarke was excellent in weeding out the silliness in the statements of many pollies.
I recall when asked by straight man Bryan Dawe about the energy resources of Australia being owned by the Government. "Yes that's correct", said Clarke, "the Chinese Government .... etc". True mockumentary!

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#20

Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 12:06 AM

I guess laughter is a gift to humans. I never heard dogs and cats laugh.

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#24
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 9:46 AM

Did you ever actually listen to a dog or cat. I have heard all sorts of utterances from them, especially happy ones.

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#37
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/12/2017 6:03 AM

And, you call that laughing buddy? Cats are annoying when they do their thing, they shout out loud bothering their neighbours even in the middle of the night.

But, this is just great.

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#40
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/12/2017 9:30 AM

What do you have against cats. Cats are spiritual animals, and they can detect evil. Be careful what side of the cat detector you end up on there. BTW, that was sort of funny.

Remains to be seen if we nuke the Be-Zonkers out of Kim Jung Un. Would not bother me one bit if we did, I am tired of hearing about him, and his incessant threats and whining. He is like an undisciplined child needing a mother's attention (a good swift kick to the rump seems appropriate).

Even though I agree with the use of Tomahawk missiles on Syrian airfields, the action was apparently not legal under the UN charter, or under US Constitution War Powers Act. The specific criteria were not met, although I still agree that Syrian government lied flat out about inventory of Sarin weapons. No shock there at all. Trump needs to get Congressional approval for declaration of war, or war powers act approval before proceeding further (even though he has near 70% or higher approval for the action taken).

I do not mean for my reply to be inferred to be political in nature, merely a reflection of current events. I certainly do not think we want to dive off into all that right now, and start the blame game all over again.

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#42
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/12/2017 11:10 AM

Well apparently I am not evil enough then.

Cat magnet here. 'Kitty whisperer' in a way I guess. I have strays come through every now and then. Most often looking real rough and hungry. They stay for a few days get some food and safe place to stay then leave.

Had a big black male show up a few nights ago really torn up from a fresh fight with something that was likely bigger than he was. (bloodied up and missing a lot of fur)

I put a bit of food out for him. About 10 minutes later he was calling out so I check and sure enough he ate what I gave so I put out more.

After that he watched the other cats come and go through the kitty door without bothering him so he took up residence right next to it in the well lit area of the deck all night. I guess he felt safe there.

He came and went a few times the last few days and was pretty respectful to the other cats every time but I haven't seen him today.

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#43
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/12/2017 2:07 PM

My wife sends her regards to all other cat folks out there. We have five cats under the roof, with four dogs, and five birds, one of which is a talker.

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#44
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/12/2017 3:05 PM

I am usually liked by animals. I kinda have fresh memories of cats since childhood. My late-father also was a cat and dog magnet. Stray cats and dogs want to be adopted in the family, I recall. My father was generous and kind to them and give them food. I as a child I was amused and adapted his kindness.

I have a mouse once, which I played and pet several times. It was actually from a wild mouse not bought from the vet store. But, I did tamed it. Though I have cruel memories also on rodents, cockroaches, birds, chickens and spiders. But, now have changed my treatment to them. They certainly have their fair share of life in this Earth. I raised chickens last 2 years ago for consumption, but we just can't eat them. It's crazy. Instead, they died on a flue.

I certainly agree, that cats are spiritual animals, like most animals can be possessed.

O, my in-laws, usually has fowl mouth on them and hated to some point. But, what cats did was hilarious. Sometimes they scratch her feet without any reason and peed on her legs and the utensils in the kitchen. They seemed to understand somehow. The more she had bad mouth on them the frequent it happened.

I have no issues with cats, just that during breeding season and pooping near vicinity. They are cuddly and sweet animals and they don't smell stinky at all.

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#45
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/12/2017 6:00 PM

My Ex got peed on a few times and her stuff a lot. Full on back the kitty up and let it go!

Once she was gone the peeing in the house problems dropped off considerably. A froze shut or snowed under kitty door and an overloaded litter box is about the only things that lead to problems now.

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#47
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/13/2017 9:35 AM

Cats can express jealousy if there is suddenly a new "cat" in the territory. They see themselves as whole beings, not necessarily cats. They seem to adhere to behaviors exhibited by the alpha beings in their usual haunts.

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#48
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/13/2017 11:04 PM

They were born here and tamed by the Ex and daughter.

As her attitude got worse they got less friendly towards her. They sensed something was changing in who she was and a didn't care for it.

As far as kiddo and me, we didn't have any problems other than excess kitty love. (way too much kitty love some days.)

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#46
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/13/2017 9:33 AM

Animals could give a small round poo pellet about cuss words if they are spoken lovingly.

I expect the mother-in-law is giving off extremely negative vibes, man. She needs to go with the flow, surf with the mood, take a chill pill. Tell her I said so, before she pops a brain artery.

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#21

Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 8:40 AM

Didn't Bennett Cerf use that as a book title 60+ years ago? I'll have to break out Google to find out.

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#22
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 9:05 AM

Must be a faulty memory from my youth--I didn't find it. Cerf did write a bunch of humor books, but didn't use the title Laughter Is the Best Medicine that I could find.

But it is a fact, in my experience, that humor is relaxing. In college I used Peanuts books of comics to read before a test. Sometimes it took many pages to get a laugh, but it worked.

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#27
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Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 12:10 PM

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#35

Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 9:35 PM

My kitties give me enough to laugh at most days.

This evening I was working on putting the new siding on my old house and 3 - 4 of them took turns inspecting everything in detail start to finish.

If there was a piece of plywood or sheet metal leaning up against anything and it had a gap big enough for a cat to fit in that gap got inspected.

If the was a screw dropped it got chased. If a screw was on the roof it got batted off into the yard to never be found again and if I wasn't on the ladder one or more of them were on their way up or down.

And when they weren't doing that they would sit at the front door and meow to be let in. Then once in run to the back door and go out the kitty door only to show up out front again where they would sit at the front door meowing to be let back in one more time.

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#36
In reply to #35

Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/11/2017 9:54 PM

I will say it again .... cats have staff.
Have to go ... the Burmese bosses in my life, Cleo and Oscar, are calling (again)!
Coming .......

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#39
In reply to #36

Re: Laughter Truly IS the Best Medicine

04/12/2017 9:22 AM

Cats do have one language they use for each other, and a totally different language when dealing with me, or with wifey. Mostly, it is the "I want in", and the "I want that tasty pate' cat food right now", language. Although, even though they have a perfectly good cat box, the other sound is "Let me out right now, I have to go pee real bad."

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