Laughter and Joy — the Best Medicine
WHEN people become ill, the first idea that rolls through their mind is to see a doctor. They are seldom aware that their trouble may be caused by emotions. Modern medical research shows that many diseases afflicting adults are the result of emotional problems.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, emotional traumas are a major cause of disease. Over 2,000 years ago, the Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor's Manual of Internal Medicine) , China's first substantial medical work, said: "Five kinds of vital energies come from the five internal organs — joy, anger, sorrow, melancholy and fear. Joy hurts the heart, anger hurts the liver, brooding hurts the spleen, melancholy hurts the lungs and fear hurts the kidneys." What this meant is that emotional factors are natural human states, but that an excess of any of them can cause diseases. These diseases range from minor ones involving the hair to serious disorders affecting the entire body.
Chinese researchers on disease prevention attach great importance to the functions of the emotions in keeping physically fit and healthy. They theorize an interaction between the emotions and the body, believing that a good emotional state can help improve general well-being and increase longevity. Emphasis is placed on a peaceful state of mind and broadmindedness.
AS a popular Chinese proverb says, "A laugh makes you ten years younger and worry turns your hair gray."
Modern medical research has confirmed that of all the factors affecting health, one of the most harmful is extreme e-motion. People obsessed with melancholy, fear, sorrow, jealousy, shock and excitement for a long period of time, as well as those who ungergo prolonged periods of stress, are more likely to suffer high blood pressure, heart disease, mental disorders, asthma, chronic gastritis, glaucoma and, some researchers believe, even cancer. Women under these conditions are also more likely to have menstruation problems. Medical research from China and abroad shows that 70 percent of all gastritis cases and 80 to 90 percent of all headaches are related to the emotions. Recent medical experiments suggest that a bad state of mind, involving any of the emotions, plus stress may predispose a person to cancer — perhaps through a weakening of the defenses of the immune system.
A happy, peaceful mind is the most helpful factor for maintaining good health. When people are happy, their central nervous system works to strengthen their bodily functions, resulting in proper digestion and a strong metabolism. They have a good appetite and sleep well, thereby enjoying high spirits and a quick mind. Research also suggests that optimists may live longer than others. According to one survey of 372 centenarians, 98 percent had a cheerful and optimistic temperament. Doctors report that the wounds of a victor tend to heal more quickly than those of the defeated, and patients free from emotional burdens tend to recover from an illness sooner. If the patient is confident and optimistic about fighting the disease, he may recover sooner, and perhaps require less treatment. For patients in low spirits, an illness often lingers on or even worsens. So emotional factors may well have a direct effect on patients' recovery.
The obvious question then is, how does one keep a positive state of mind? Here are some suggestions for achieving that goal:
1. Develop a strong sense of morality, an ethical code and live by it. People who are unselfish and noble-spirited are broadminded, optimistic and always in high spirits. Jealousy, envy, hate and anxiety are negative states that rebound on those who indulge in them.
2. Try to see the "broad picture" in life. Don't worry about small matters and don't be overly critical.
3. Love work and activity. Be devoted to it. One can find happiness in contributing to society. It is well known that some people fall into a depression after retirement, while those who keep active and have a cause or activity tend to be better off emotionally and physically.
4. Exercise can invigorate the mind as well as the body. When you feel gloomy or angry, the best way to pull yourself out of those moods is through exercise.
5. Develop friendships and an openness to other people. Discussing your problems with friends can often lighten your spirits and give you a better perspective on things.
6. Cultivate a wide range of interests. Chess, calligraphy and painting are but a few of the many hobbies that can keep one's mind and body healthy. Music and other arts can take one out of one's self and give real emotional rewards.
FOR good health and longevity, you should learn to control your emotions, develop a carefree, relaxed lifestyle, and try to live in an atmosphere of good humor. Be cheerful and forget your worries — and live longer.