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Posts Tagged ‘Laughter’

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).

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

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’ names 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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7

Nancy and I taught together at the same school for seventeen years until she retired. (Yes, the same name, teaching the same grade.)

One morning she and I simultaneously climbed out of our vans, side-by-side in the parking lot, said good-bye to our kids, grabbed our multiple totes of stuff (teachers were the original bag ladies, you know), and headed to our classrooms.

As we traipsed up the slight rise to our building, we commiserated over the long-to-do list requiring completion before Spring Break. Our hands were on the doorknobs when Nancy said, “ ‘You know what we need?”

And in the split second before she answered her own question, I thought, Hallelujah! Nancy, with all her wisdom, common sense, and problem-solving skills has an idea to lighten our loads!

 “What we need,” she concluded, “is our lipstick!”

 

lipstick-quotes-7

 

I burst out in a very unladylike guffaw. You see, neither one of us had yet completed that step of our morning routine. And though life does go better lipstick (as most women would agree), it does fall short of erasing to-do-list chores.

Nonetheless, as I entered my classroom that morning, the tension in my spirit and shoulders was erased.  I felt renewed, powered up to face the challenges of the day. Nancy’s humorous comment had indeed lightened my load—at least attitudinally.

That old song we used to sing years ago at church was right:

  • Verse 1: “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10c, repeated four times).
  • Verse 2: “If you want joy you must laugh for it” (4 times).
  • Verse 3: “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha” (4 times).

Who could finish a song like that without a genuine case of the giggles?

Laughter works wonders to stir up happiness, contentment, and even improved health.

Remember King Solomon’s observation?

 

dc7baaf1e8c89cd88165ed062bc21dda

 

(“A cheerful heart is good medicine.”

–Proverbs 17:22)

 

And the medicine is all the more powerful when enjoyed in pleasant company.

Laughter shared is multiplied.

With improved health may very well come longer life.

 

He-who-laughs-lasts

 

(“He who laughs, lasts.”

–Mary Pettibone Poole)

 

And even if that’s not quite true, this bit of wisdom certainly is:

 

always-find-a-reason-to-laugh-life-daily-quotes-sayings-pictures

 

(“Laughter may not add years to your life,

but it will add life to your years.”

–Anonymous)

 

Besides laughter, another ingredient for that cheerful-heart medicine is: trust.

 

691f8e21811785da8bdf30fecfd46e5f

 

(“The one who trusts in the Lord will be happy.”

–Proverbs 16:20b, HCSB)

 

When our trust is strong, we can be light-hearted and content. After all, God is:

  • Completely trustworthy, never forsaking those who seek him (Psalm 9:10).
  • Gracious, surrounding us with his favor (Psalm 5:12).
  • Wise, making known to us the path of life (Psalm 16:11).
  • Attentive, sustaining us here on earth (Psalm 18:35), and
  • Loving, preparing our eternal home in heaven (John 14:2).

 

Childlike trust in God allows us to relax and enjoy childlike fun–even exuberant hilarity, belly laughs and irrepressible giggles.

 

job-8-21

 

(“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter

and your lips with shouts of joy.”

–Job 8:21)

 

So look for laughter. It’s everywhere!

 

Just this morning, our daughter-in-law (a medical resident), shared this story with me:

She was headed out the door to see a massage therapist for her aching neck.

“Where are you going?” asked her daughter, Elena.

Mommy explained.

“You need to see a doctor,” remarked Elena. After a pause, she added, “Wait a minute…

… I’M a doctor!” (Her toy physician’s kit has three-year old Elena convinced she’s as qualified as Mommy to advise and treat patients.)

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Where has laughter and good cheer provided therapeutic medicine for you this week? Please share in the comments below. Laughter shared is multiplied!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.ice-inc.net; http://www.quotationof.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.quotio.com; http://www.thedailyquotes.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.newlife.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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