Crazier than Christmas: Put on a happy face!
TS Eliot called April “the cruellest month”, and at this rate he might have a very good point.
It’s bad enough that we’ve spent a winter huddling together around flickering candles (which the Danes insist on calling ‘hygge’), but now we’re being advised to spend our time indoors when the sun is out and spring is on the way.
Given the current coronavirus threat, how on earth can we put on a happy face in Scandinavia? Well, we must try because (the bottom line is) feeling happy also makes us healthier.
This is not fake news. Physically, every time we laugh, this is what happens: six times the normal level of oxygen enters our lungs and brain, whilst reducing our blood pressure, the tension in our face, shoulder and stomach muscles, and the amount of stress-inducing chemicals.
It also increases the level of salivary immunoglobulin A – an antibody that defends us against viral infections. Apparently this means that many good laughs a day keep the doctor away!
Cot you laughing
A recent survey revealed that on average infants laugh as many as 300 times a day, but by the time we’ve reached 50, it has dropped to just three. Also, men over the age of 50 are generally more grumpy than women. I know a few wives who can attest to that.
An American professor of psychiatry, as an experiment, infected volunteers with cold and flu viruses and found out that happier people were less likely to catch the virus.
Happier people are more productive too. In another experiment, volunteers were shown a funny film and then set mental tests, after which their results were compared to the performance of volunteers who had seen a serious film.
The ones who had seen the funny film performed 12 percent better – which leads to an important conclusion. If you are going to volunteer for a study, choose an economist’s experiment rather than a psychiatrist’s.
It seems that one of the best ways of getting rid of illness is also one of the most underused resources we have: our sense of humour.
Happiness is a penis
Another survey (yes, there is always one) reveals that the average man knows only two jokes and most women don’t know any. Maybe that’s because we women can never be described as ‘average’.
The ability to tell jokes is not the same as being happy. “Happiness is a warm gun,” sang the Beatles, and probably many Trump supporters would agree.
Danes feel happiness if they get a strong wind behind them when they’re cycling.
As for the French, when President de Gaulle retired, his wife was asked what she was looking forward to in their retirement years. She replied “a penis”. A shocked silence followed until the president said: “Ma cherie, I believe zee Americans pronounce zat word ‘appiness?”
Our sense of humour is a cholesterol-free, nicotine-free, fat-free, environmentally-friendly option that we have 12 months of every year – and ‘til death us do part. As an English comedian said: “I wanna die in my sleep with a happy smile on my face, like my father did … not screaming in terror like his passengers!”
So, if you want to stay healthy, enjoy yourself. And if you can’t enjoy yourself, enjoy somebody else (provided, of course, that you keep two metres distance)!
Vivienne McKee, Denmark’s best-known English entertainer, is this country’s most beloved foreign import. Over the last 36 years, hundreds of thousands of Copenhageners have enjoyed her annual Crazy Christmas Cabaret show at Tivoli, marvelling at her unique, wry Anglo wit and charm.