Diagnosed with anklosing spondylitis, (deterioration of spinal connective tissue) Norman Cousins, editor of Saturday Review at the time, experienced intense, unrelieved pain. Suspecting he may be the worse because of maximum amounts and highest possible dosages of painkillers, he determined to stop them. But what would he do with his pain?
Because stress (tension), he felt, may have contributed to his illness, he questioned whether relaxation through laughter wouldn’t help. He ordered all the Candid Camera videos and Marx Brothers movies he could find. With his doctor’s permission, he had the nurse trained in how to use the projector.
“I discovered that ten minutes of genuine belly-laughter would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” he says in his book, Anatomy of An Illness (1979).
The second problem Cousins faced was the hospital. Laughter from his room through the night (and during the day) disrupted other patients, so he had to move to a motel. What a relief! Without intern exams, food service, being wakened for pills, doctors visits, etc., he slept–all at 1/3 the cost.
Most of the time, we can effect no change in our circumstances. We’re stuck–except for our attitude. That we can change. If it worked for Cousins, maybe it can work for you.
Watch for my next blog August 31.