Q: Dear Dr. Mao, How can humor improve the quality of life?
A: Humor has been studied for a long time for its healing properties. In fact, the most recent Readers Digest ran an article on its effects on the brain chemicals and how it improves memory and cognitive functions. Humor also plays a role in immunity, seratonin, and dopamine levels in the brain, as well as helping to maintain a positive and optimistic outlook on life. Perhaps this fact was well-observed thousands of years ago when meditating monks and Taoist practitioners included a gentle smile as part of their meditation routine. Try this the next time you are treated badly or someone is curt with you: smile broadly and intently. You will be surprised at how quickly the world around you will change.