Laughter: A Natural Medicine
Has anything made you laugh recently; I mean really laugh? Or are you, like so many people, laugh-deprived?
There is so much serious, spiteful, angry, vengeful, critical, judgmental, accusatory, hurtful stuff filling the airwaves, video screens, Facebook posts, blog comments, and print media, that it’s sometimes hard to breathe in the thick atmosphere of malcontent.
There is so much bad news worldwide: national and international crises, human suffering, natural disasters, job shortages, stock market roller coaster rides, disease, murders, child abductions, etc.
I sometimes feel that I am suffering from laughter deprivation, humor depletion, a definite feel-good shortage. I find things to smile at – but little to laugh at. And most of the stuff on TV sitcoms that is classified as “humor” is either stupid or borderline obscene.
To balance things out a bit, last week ABC had a story on the benefits of smiling. Research has revealed that a smile makes people feel better, whether it’s a smile from someone else offered to you, or your own smile offered to another person. If a simple smile can do that, imagine what hearty laughter can accomplish.
I checked out the benefits of laughter and have decided that I need to do a lot more of it.
Laughter can have a positive effect on pain levels. Not only can laughter give us a physical and emotional release from pain and stress, but it can actually give us an internal workout – on the abs and the diaphragm, as well as relaxing other muscles, like those in the neck and shoulders.
Laughter not only reduces the level of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, but it also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. Laughter also increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T-cells–those cells that are instrumental in fighting such diseases as cancer. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects from the daily stress that’s in all of our lives.
When we laugh more through the day, it also takes our attention off of negative things that surround us. If we look for the humorous side of things or put a humorous spin on things, it can ease the stressful moments and give us a different perspective on the situation at hand.
I am a very practical person; I can easily see the roadblocks that could hinder a project or idea. This can sometimes lead to stress before things happen. I am a plodder and can push myself until something is done, whether or not I really want to be doing the project. When laughter is injected into the planning or the work, things usually go smoother, with far less stress.
The Bible says:
Eccl. 3:4 There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh . . .” (NRSV)
Though life has it’s time of tears, it’s not good to dwell on sad things. We need to look for and plan for laughing times.
David and I both realized a while back that we need to laugh more. So we began to tune into old sitcoms, like The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, All in the Family, and Keeping Up Appearances. We sometimes pull out an old funny movie, such as What About Bob? or the older version of such classics as The Importance of Being Ernest.
If you want to get your mind and body into a more healthy state, especially if you are fighting a disease, as I am, you need to put more laughter into your life to help strengthen your immune system.
Prov. 17:22 A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
Laughter is contagious. I love to laugh, though I don’t do it often enough. And I love to hear other people laugh. I have some favorites among the laughing population. My friend Joan has a catchy laugh and she can often see humor in the ordinary things of life. My friend Cheryl has a great laugh; sort of puts you in mind of the lion on the Wizard of Oz. There is a pastor friend of ours from Beebe, Quebec, Canada, named Bob Cargill who has a very distinctive laugh that is uniquely contagious.
But my very favorite laugh belongs to my husband. He has a great sense of humor and has a truly contagious laugh; it’s warm and friendly. I love to hear him laughing with others and encouraging their attempts at humor. His laugh makes me feel good, whether or not I am laughing with him.
I have a friend in Maryland named Dennis who often forwards emails to me that inevitably make me laugh as I read them. I usually end up sharing them with my household and friends and I laugh again with those people. I think I laugh louder and longer when I share the humor with someone else.
Look for ways to share your humorous moments and laugh-creating cartoons, videos, or emails with your family and friends.
Humor is a great pick-me-up for the blues. So the next time you feel down, get with a friend who makes you laugh, watch a funny movie or sitcom, and ask the Lord to give you a spirit of joy in place of heaviness. Don’t let laugh deprivation ruin your day or your life.
What’s makes your humor thermometer rise? What makes you laugh?
©2011, Marcy Alves
Posted on October 30, 2011, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, In the News, My Journey, Reflections and tagged ABC World News, antidote for depression, benefits of laughing, contagious laughter, depression and laughter, Dick Van Dyke Show, healing humor, health and humor, I Love Lucy, immune system, laughs, laughter, laughter and health, laughter and the immune system, laughter like medicine, sharing humor, smile, smiling. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.