Get a PhD in Jocularity

“Laughter Is The Best Medicine.” No kidding.

Migraines – whether it be their chronic pain or their repetitiveness – are your own personal bully. You never know when they’ll show up yet again to pummel you and beat you down, nor when they will let up. All you know is you will be left feeling discouraged and furious at yourself for having yet again been a victim.

What’s one way to disarm the migraine bully? Pretty much the same way you deal with an actual person. You begin standing up to them by taking action and confronting them. 

This is a case of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Give in, go with the flow, and the current will carry you on a river of well-being you rarely experience right now. When I was still suffering from migraines, I would be incensed at standup comics. What was everyone laughing about when there were people like me suffering so excruciatingly in solitude? How could these comedians be so insensitive as to find life so funny?

Even if you don’t find the joke funny at that moment and your laugh is artificial, the magic of laughing begins to affect the chemistry of your brain. It causes healthy hormones and other marvelous chemicals to course through your bloodstream and lymphatic system, substances so numerous that no biochemist can list them all.

Laughter is so essential that animals, even wild ones, show signs of an advanced sense of humor. Fortunes are being made through videos about dogs being chased by cats, foxes jumping on trampolines, parrots mimicking humans (do we really look like that!?!), and horses being hilarious. When my dogs do something that makes me laugh out loud, they do zoomies out of sheer happiness. They know they are funny and that this is beneficial to my well-being. 

Go out and buy standup comic CDs or get an online subscription to a comedy channel and listen to the various styles. Indulge in that activity for 20 minutes per day or more. Sooner or later, some standup comic’s brand of humor will tickle your funny bone. 

When I was still suffering migraine pain, I was not fit for company. Now, I find people laughing at my quips. I began by borrowing lines from standup comics and then developing my own style. Any better, and I’d be on stage earning a living.

One of my friends had been sick with pleurisy. When the fever had broken, I visited, bringing her up to date on the latest gossip about our wide circle of acquaintances. We were in hysterics for at least 90 minutes. Her husband called me the next morning, thanking me for giving his wife’s respiratory system a real workout. He said she had slept soundly the entire night for the first time in weeks and was breathing far more easily. Endorphins!

If hearing comedy routines is too much of a migraine trigger, go to your local library or bookstore and pick up a book on humor to read. For hospital visits, a book on comedy and a bouquet of flowers is much appreciated and the book whiles away the hours of convalescence. 

And, multitasking as always, laughing is the most pleasant of all the breathing exercises. None of us breathe optimally in any case, so we are not supplying our bodies with enough oxygen. The 10 of us at one table at the 5-hour lunch at a friend’s wedding laughed so much and for so long that the next day, I had muscle cramps on both sides of my ribcage. I couldn’t take a deep breath because I had cramping as if I had overdone it while hiking! But just imagine all that oxygen I inhaled while busy guffawing for hours… and, nearly 40 years later, my friends are still married!


  • Carla Piringer

    Related to noted medical professionals, the author was afflicted with an inherited excruciating migraine condition, followed traditional medical and alternative therapies and has lived migraine-free for over 35 years. She shares her doctor-recommended method in her book, hoping to inspire sufferers to find significant pain relief.

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