When was the last time your doctor asked you what you enjoy?
You’ve probably heard stories of people like Norman Cousins who healed themselves with laughter. Is this possible for you?
Think about times in your life when you were really enjoying yourself, maybe you were lying on the beach, out dancing, watching a great movie, staring into the eyes of your child. When joy takes over us, suffering seems to vanish. Sure it comes back, but what’s happening while it’s gone?
The physiology of joy has been studied and written about and it’s a biochemical phenomenon. Just like being under stress causes the body to release chemicals that cause inflammation pain and potentially long term damage, so too can joy and pleasure cause the release of therapeutic chemicals.
Taking time for joy is easier said than done. Finding things that bring you pleasure, that don’t cause harm, is even more challenging in this society that allows us access to instant satisfaction through media food and consumption. But finding true joy whether it’s noticing the flaming red of fall leaves, sitting next to a child as they play, or laughing out loud with friends is real medicine. Bringing this thought to the forefront will open you up to the opportunities around you and support you on your journey towards health. Open your eyes and look for your joy.
For the scientifically minded here is some reading:
Positive affect and markers of inflammation: discrete positive emotions predict lower levels of inflammatory cytokines