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Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

How would you complete the following sentence?

The most beautiful and beneficial therapy God ever granted humanity is:

  1. Prayer
  2. Worship
  3. Laughter
  4. Camaraderie with other believers

To be fair, all four of those God-given gifts are therapeutic. But pastor/author Charles Swindoll considers Answer C, laughter, as number one (1).

 

 

Perhaps he’s familiar with the research documenting the benefits of an enthusiastic guffaw. Laughter has been proven to:

  • Reduce stress, depression, and blood pressure
  • Increase the production of HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Improve immunity, mood, and sleep
  • Improve the function of lungs, heart, and cardiovascular system
  • Help relieve artery inflammation and pain

In fact, “the medical world has verified that laughter releases endorphins, God’s natural painkillers, which are fifty to one hundred times more powerful than morphine” (2).   Wowsers!

No wonder God inspired King Solomon to write: “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

 

 

I’m thinking our Heavenly Father also receives benefit and blessing as he takes delight in the laughter of his children–just as human parents (and grandparents!) do.

In addition, when we face the day lightheartedly and find humor even when life is hard, we’re actually expressing our trust in God.  That blesses him too.

Phillip Yancey has identified similarities between laughter and prayer–of all things. “In both acts, we stand on equal ground,” he says, “freely acknowledging ourselves as fallen creatures. We take ourselves less seriously…Laughter and prayer unite” (3).

I hadn’t thought of that before. Prayer does unite our hearts as we present together the same requests to God.

Laughter unites us too–young and old, employers and employees–even total strangers. We “become a single group of human beings, enjoying [our] existence”—W. Grant Lee.  And if we include God, the joy is multiplied.

 

 

But most of us won’t accumulate enough laughter in a day to do much good unless we intentionally seek it out. So the question becomes: how do we jump-start the habit of laughter and make it a morning-noon-and-night event?

Here are five suggestions to get the laughs rolling:

  • Purchase a joke-of-the-day calendar or access a humor website like Reader’s Digest’s https://www.rd.com/jokes/, and start the day with a few giggles. To increase the benefit further, share the joke with someone else.  Here’s a short sample–easy to remember!

 

 

  • Watch a few minutes of humorous YouTube videos. You can’t go wrong with Tim Hawkins, Chonda Pierce, or Michael Jr. I can almost guarantee they’ll have you in stitches, even if you watch them all by yourself.   But for best results, invite one or two others to watch and chuckle along with you.  Here’s Chonda Pierce talking about piano lessons:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjcfdnqSvT0

 

  • Spend time with young children. They laugh easily and so delectably, you won’t be able to resist laughing yourself.

 

 

 

 

  • Start a collection of jokes, cartoons, and humorous statements—whatever makes you laugh. You’ll be prepared with some giggle-makers when stress mounts, anxiety flares, or disappointment deflates the day.

 

Perhaps you’ll find one or two laugh-prompts here to begin your compilation:

 

  • “Normal is just a setting on the dryer.”—Patsy Clairmont

 

  • “Exercise in the morning—before your brain figures out what you’re doing.”—Unknown

 

 

  • “Youth is a disease from which we all recover”—Dorothy Fulheim.

 

  • “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes”—Unknown.

 

  • “Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting”—Unknown.

 

 

  • When Miss Andrews took her first graders to music class, the teacher, Mrs. Judson, wasn’t there. To keep the children productively occupied until she arrived, Miss Andrews asked the class if they knew the person whose name was written in big letters on the board: John Philip Sousa. One little boy raised his hand. “I don’t know who he is,” the first grader responded, “but if his name is on the board, he’s in big trouble” (4).

 

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Thank you, Father, for giving us the ability to laugh. It truly is a gift of your grace, refreshing our spirits and opening our hearts to your joy. Teach us to express our trust in you with laughter, defying our worries and fears with frequent chuckles, giggles, and hoots!

 

 

What made you laugh recently?  Please share in the comment section below!

 

Notes:

  1.  www.christianquotes.info
  2. Marilyn Meberg, Joy Breaks
  3. Philip Yancey, Grace Notes
  4. True story! It happened at the school where I taught for many years.  Teachers’ name have been changed.

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.pexels.com; http://www.deviantart.com; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.canva.com; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.flickr.com (2); http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.afgsc.af.mil.

 

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One steamy July afternoon, Steve, Jeremy (our younger son), and I headed to a wedding at our new church. We’d only lived in the community about a month; it was the first nuptials my pastor-husband would perform there.

Jeremy was in college at the time and close to the age of the bride and groom.  He’d already become acquainted with them since our arrival.

The service was simple and relaxed, the gathering intimate. Afterward, a reception was held in the large foyer of the church, providing us an opportunity to visit with members of the congregation.

One young lady chatted with the three of us for quite some time. She laughed easily, and listened well. Her strawberry blond hair, blue eyes, and warm smile added to her charm.

On the way home, I was thinking about our pleasant conversation and said to Jeremy, “I think that cute girl likes you. Otherwise, why would she have talked to us for so long?”

“Oh, Mom.  That would be so weird,” he countered.  “I could never date a girl with the same name as my mother!”

Yes, her name was Nancy. And to make matters worse (as far as Jeremy was concerned) it was Nancy Ann, the same as mine. I had to agree; it was a strange coincidence.

“Besides,” Jeremy continued, “I happen to know she’s dating someone else and, of course, I am going out with Jennifer.”

But guess who broke up? And six or seven months later, Jeremy did ask Nancy out. Eighteen months after that, they were married.

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Now we have two Nancy Ann Rueggs in the family.  And it’s been great fun.

First, we joked through the process of creating different nicknames or titles or something so we both wouldn’t swivel our heads or come running when our name was called at family gatherings. We rejected Junior/Senior, the Younger/the Older, and derivatives such as Nanny. We didn’t care for Nancy One and Nancy Two either.

But the bride from the wedding, where we met our daughter-in-law, came up with a clever idea. Nancy could add “2.0” (Two-Point-Oh) to her name, in honor of the graphics design degree she had just earned. The added humor of “Point-Oh” made the nickname acceptable. We didn’t use it often, but it helped in a pinch.

The problem resolved itself when our first granddaughter was born, and I became Nana. Now that derivative I like!

The year after Jeremy and Nancy were married, our daughter, Heather, and her husband, Tim, were married. Steve, Jeremy, Nancy and I flew out to Washington State together for the wedding. The double take on the face of the baggage handler was quite entertaining as he processed one ticket, and then another with the same name. He got a chuckle out of our unique situation.

And then there were the years while we were still members of the same church that Nancy and I would receive cards on each other’s birthdays. No harm done; we’d pass them along to each other with a hug and a giggle.

Now I tell that story because: number one, I love to tell it. The fact Jeremy was so adamant he could never date Nancy, and now she’s his wife, tickles me every time I think about it.

Number two: It’s proof that God does indeed have a sense of humor. He’s not some stern, sullen Being whose supreme pleasure is punishing people or making life difficult.

No.

He’s the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)—gifts like a sweet daughter-in-law*, a uniquely fun situation, and a humorous story to tell.

Truth is: God designed us to take delight in him, to enjoy his gifts, and even find amusement in those gifts (Ecclesiastes 3:13).

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Thank you, God, for creating humor, and giving us the ability to appreciate the ludicrous, the amusing, the play on words. Thank you, too, for the gift of laughter. I love how a chuckle-inducing story makes us feel good and brings teller and listener together with bonds of understanding. Finally and most important, thank you for coming alongside and augmenting the joy of humor, because “in your presence there is fullness of joy.”

(Proverbs 17:22, Psalm 16:11)

*Actually we have two sweet daughters-in-law, and a delightful son-in-law as well.

(Photo credits:  www.weddingsontheamalficoast.com; Nancy Ruegg, biblepic.com.)

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Years ago, I taught one year of kindergarten before “graduating” to fourth grade.  One aspect of that year proved especially delightful: the humorous things those five year-olds would say.  I started writing them down, to enjoy again in the future.  The future is now!

For example:

Alice and Lisa spent most of recess one day digging a hole in the sandbox.  “We digged so deep,” Alice said, “we could hear the people in China walking around.”

After giving instructions for an art activity, I asked if anyone had a question.  Lee raised his hand to inquire, “What’s the capital of North Dakota?”

Megan was recuperating from strep throat.  She informed me, “I could have gotten dramatic fever.”

Lauren asked me one day, “Mrs. Ruegg, what’s your last name?”

Such moments were pure fun-shine, lighting up my spirit.

Did you know scientific study is discovering that laughter provides a number of health benefits? (Just as research has proven the benefits of happiness, as we considered in the last post.)

You see, laughter enhances your intake of oxygen as you breathe more deeply.  That, in turn, positively impacts your heart, lungs, and muscles.

Laughter releases endorphins in the brain.  Endorphins are one of the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters that send electrical signals through the nervous system.  When stress or pain occurs, endorphins are released.  They help reduce the impact of such factors on the brain.  Endorphins lead to a feeling of euphoria, and laughter is a big contributor.

Laughter also…

…reduces stress and generates a relaxed feeling.

…helps dispel depression and anxiety, thus improving our moods.

…fosters connection with other people.

Once again, secular research is proving what scripture has said all along:

 “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

But there is no need to invest in joke books, watch humorous You-Tube videos, or teach kindergarten!  You’ll receive a healthy dose of cheer in these ways, too:

Possibility #1:  Spend time with positive people.

Research indicates up to 80% of our laughter is not generated by funny movies or comedians on Sirius radio. Most laughter occurs during everyday comments in everyday social situations.

Another fact proven by research:  most positive people have a sense of humor.  It would stand to reason that Christians should be the most positive people around.  Spend time with positive, Christian people and you’ll no doubt find yourself laughing frequently.

Possibility #2:  Celebrate the small joys as well as the monumental.

 

Psalm 126:1-3 relates the experience of exiles returning from captivity in Babylon to Israel.  They laughed and sang for joy, feeling as if they were living a dream.

“The Lord has done great things for us,” they cried, “and we are filled with joy” (v. 3)!

Sometimes we, too, laugh and shout spontaneously at the announcement of good news—acceptance to that university of choice, a job promotion, a new baby on the way.

But the Lord does great things for us frequently.  The more I celebrate his goodness, the more joy and laughter I’ll experience.

Just the other day, I was washing dishes (Such a boring, unpleasant chore!) when a large, black and yellow butterfly fluttered by the window.  To be honest, I didn’t laugh or sing out loud, but my heart was overjoyed just the same.  That butterfly felt like a little love-gift from God, making that moment at the sink less burdensome.

Throughout each day, we would do well to follow David’s example:  “I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart.  I’m writing the book on your wonders.  I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God” (Psalm 9:1-2, The Message).

 

Possibility #3:  Revel in God’s presence.

Psalm 16:11 reminds us that God fills us with joy in his presence.  Just conversing with him throughout the day can be incredibly uplifting.

Brother Lawrence, in The Practice of the Presence of God (Whitaker House, 1989), suggests that we tend to stifle joy by spending only brief moments in worship.

“If God can find a soul filled with a lively faith, he pours his grace into it in a torrent that, having found an open channel, gushes out exuberantly.”

That exuberant gushing out of God’s grace, that bubbling overflow of all his glorious riches into our lives—might it take the form of rejoicing laughter sometimes?  I think so.

Karl Barth, that great theologian of the twentieth century, might agree with me.

He said:

 “Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.”

(photo credits:  www.marciaballestero.com ; www.sciencemadefun.net ; www.positivemindconsulting.com ; www.sallyandsam.blogspot.comwww.powerfulintnetions.org ; www.izquotes.com

 

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