It took a tragedy in her life — the sudden death of her best girlfriend — to make Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane recognize the healing power of laughter.
“Two weeks after her funeral, I couldn’t stop crying. So I went to Ridley’s comedy club. I sat there laughing and crying, and realized that laughter truly is the best medicine,” said the physician and certified health coach.
It was then that Shelby-Lane began her “pursuit of happiness and laughter.” The University of Michigan Medical School graduate enrolled at The Second City School of Comedy in Chicago. She became “doctor by day” and “comedienne by night.” When she wasn’t working in the emergency room, she was performing standup at comedy clubs. She even created her own comedy troupe, Girlfriend Village & Company.
“Laughter is part of our human spirit. We need to laugh and be happy to heal ourselves,” she said.
The power of laughter has a proven healing effect. A recent study from the University of Maryland Medical Center says laughter may help prevent heart disease.1 It is just one of many examples of the link between happiness and health.
Today, Shelby-Lane incorporates humor in her private practice with traditional, alternative, complementary, and integrative medicine to help her patients heal their bodies, minds, and spirits. She is a frequent speaker at workshops and seminars. She also created a 12-step program to help people laugh more and live longer.
“People want different things from life. Some want to stay well. Some want to look beautiful. But everyone wants to be happy,” Shelby-Lane said.
Laughter Therapy: Therapy that uses humor as a coping mechanism.