Earlier this year I wrote in my newsletter the following:
Having fun is part of being healthy. This comes as a surprise to many people especially when one observes how miserable a lot of health experts seem to be. Laughter has been described as the best medicine and that is a fair description. Of course we need to have things to laugh at. Comedies play a role in this.
This was written at the time of the very public fall out between Charlie Sheen and the creators of the comedy Two And A Half Men. This week has seen the return of the show. The ratings figures showed that 28 million Americans and 2.2 million Australians watched to see what happened to Charlie’s character and how the new guy would be introduced.
This is around one in ten people! When you take out young children and others who are not able to watch TV at the time, this percentage is even higher. Yes I was one of them and had a laugh. The show is not everybody’s cup of tea but that is the thing about humor. We have differing senses of humor and that is how it should be.
Sadly today, political correctness has led to people laugh less. It used to be (and not that long ago) that the Irish told the best Irish jokes, the best Jewish jokes by Jews and so it went. Thought police now jump on anything that might, in any way be taken (whether or not it is) as offensive by any person anywhere.
The health benefits of laughter are many. It reduces stress, and reduces production of adrenaline and cortisol. Laughter can lower blood pressure and has even been shown to relax blood vessels. It also benefits the immune system. New work is showing that laughter assists people with dementia by reducing their agitation and hence their need for tranquilizing medications.
And apart from all that –it feels good! A shared laugh helps strengthen relationships. So when we tune in to watch shows that make us laugh we are not wasting time, we are doing something good for our health.
The ratings figures show people have voted with their feet. If the show remains funny people will continue to watch it and of course it will continue in rerun syndication in perpetuity, like its predecessor Seinfeld.
There is one other aspect to this story. Charlie Sheen himself. There was the public “meltdown” followed by the national tour. This week he has publicly acknowledged that his behavior warranted sacking. His appearance on the Comedy Central Roast was an opportunity to laugh both at, and with him.
I take my hat off to Charlie Sheen for one simple reason. He has never taken a step back or sought to blame anyone or anything for his behavior. In particular he has not played the disease card and tried to pretend he has ADHD, sex addiction or some other invented condition. He has not played the public sympathy card and sought forgiveness at a tearful press conference. He has basically said, this is me, take it or leave it. He has actually taken responsibility for what he does!
I am not condoning his lifestyle but how he lives his life is his business. In almost every way he is not a role model. Yet in not taking a backward step and accepting responsibility for his actions he is actually showing a trait, which we see all too rarely these days.
That is one of taking personal responsibility for ones behavior.
I suspect it will not be too long before we see him on a screen somewhere in a new venture- because he can make us laugh.
A person who can make us laugh is a person of value.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.