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From the Publisher's Desk: Did you hear the one about…?

I have never been good at telling jokes. For one I can’t remember them for 30 minutes past hearing and I have to rehearse it over and over in my mind to be able to deliver it well without messing up the punch line.
Some people laugh at everything whether funny or not. It seems as if it is a nervous, uncontrollable reaction. I rarely laugh out loud but I do smile a lot inside. It takes a lot to get me to break forth with a laugh. In fact, I am usually caught off guard by myself when it happens.
Most of the time I laugh at situations and people rather than jokes. I can witness something that is funny and play it over in my mind for days, causing me to repeat my laughter.
I hate to admit it, but sometimes it can be the wrong thing to laugh at. I remember when I was attending East Tennessee State University. It was winter and there was snow on the ground and ice on the walkways. I was walking toward a young lady with her arm full of books. In an instant, her feet flew out from under her and the books went sailing.
Without hesitation, I broke out in an uncontrollable laughter. She quickly jumped to her feet, giving me an ugly look, and I swiftly moved on by. I understood her reaction. How many of us have fallen or done something silly in public? The first thing we do is look around to see if anyone saw it.
Another time happened here, at The Erwin Record. We have two bathrooms in the building. It was never officially labeled, but we usually consider one for the ladies and one for the men. Something was wrong with the men’s restroom and I had used the women’s. Evidently I had left the seat up. It’s a man thing.
Janice Metcalf was working here at the time. She evidently was in a hurry when entering the bathroom and wasn’t expecting the seat to be up. She fell in. From what I understand, it splashed. Her pants testified to the fact.
There have been many times through the years when I have gone to that restroom. I usually think of Janice and still have a chuckle from time to time.
We have all heard the expression “Laughter is the best medicine.” It seems that a study has proven it to be true.
The University of Maryland Medical Center studied people who laugh every day, several times a day to see if there was a connection between laughter and health benefits.
What they found was that on a biological level laughing introduces additional oxygen into the body. Lymph fluids are circulated and increased levels of oxygen boost immune system function. Laughing, in a sense, ‘pumps’ oxygen through vital organs and tissues, which need the oxygen to repair damage, fight infection and keep you feeling healthy.
People who laugh on a consistent basis tend to have lower blood pressure than those who laugh occasionally. Many studies have looked at the benefits of laughing and the heart. The hospital was able to find a link between laughter and lowering heart disease. They found people with heart disease laughed, on average, 40 percent less than people of the same age without heart disease.
Humans have a natural instinct for laughter. We know that babies usually begin to laugh at four-months-old. Laughter is a universal language that humans share. It appears that laughter may be one of the few universal traits found across human cultures.
We know that adults are far less likely to laugh than children. In fact, the average child laughs over 300 times a day, while the typical adult only laughs 17 times a day. Even worse is the fact that a majority of adults who report laughing on a daily basis fall into the age range of 18 to 34.
Humor and laughter may also have powerful effects on memory, brain health and aging. If the mental effects of laughter are as positive as the physical, then it is time to learn a few new jokes, gather some friends and start improving your brain health the easy way.
Now where did I put that book of jokes?

By Keith Whitson