Charles Dickens is quoted as saying, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
Laughter is a big deal! It is a celebration of the good things and, very often, it is how we deal with the bad. There’s no doubt about it. Life is better when you are laughing. When you embrace love and laughter, you can let go of fear and anxiety, and laughter becomes the healing balm that can change every aspect of life.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I would die.”
We all live with anxiety and fear, of one sort or another, and the stress is sometimes so overwhelming that we want to throw up our hands and quit.
BUT, it is a proven fact that laughter can chase away the darkness. It boosts the immune system, reduces pain releasing feel good endorphins more powerful than morphine. Laughter reduces depression, tension and stress. It improves breathing, lowers blood pressure, protects the heart, and helps weight loss.
Laughter is and always will be the best form of therapy. Someone has said, “Regular laughter is like getting a gym membership for your heart. Fifteen minutes of laughter a day is as important as thirty minutes of exercise three times a week.”
So, if laughter is so beneficial, why don’t we laugh more?
I have been learning a lesson about laughter in trying times, from my little sister who suffers from Alzheimer’s. When she first moved to a care facility, I made a commitment to spend two afternoons a week with her. For the past two and one-half years I have faithfully showed up every Tuesday and Friday. It is not always something I looked forward to, for I never know what to expect from my sister, but I keep going.
When I was there on Tuesday, as usual, June talked incessantly about her imaginary friends who are always just outside her window or high up in the corner of her room. Though I do not understand this disease, I am convinced that my sister is still there. She knows exactly what she wants to tell me, and she is aware when it doesn’t come out as she intended. She always starts with the right words—two or three or four, and then the words that follow, words from her own English language, are so garbled that they make no sense at all. Sometimes her words become nothing but gibberish.
She knows when she has failed, and she either gives up or she laughs. When she gives up, I comfort her with, “It’s all right. Don’t worry. I understand.” When she laughs, I laugh with her. Tuesday we laughed a lot.
I have made it my mission to understand, and I must say that I am becoming more and more fluent in “Gibberish.” I don’t say this to get a laugh. I’m just trying to put some kind of label on my sister’s manner of communication. When she is speaking, I hold her hand, and look in her eyes. I watch her facial expressions and her gestures, and I am aware of the tone of voice. She knows whether or not I am listening, and scolds me when my mind wanders for a moment.
I am amazed that June can laugh at herself. I see her eyes begin to sparkle, the corners of her mouth turn up, and she laughs softly saying, “That wasn’t right.”
It makes my heart ache to know that she is constantly struggling to make herself understood. It is her last and only hope of maintaining a connection with the confusing world in which she now lives.
I am determined to give her many occasions for laughter. For the Word of God says, in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart does good like a medicine…” A better translation might be, “A cheerful heart causes good healing.”
My sister’s eighty-one year old body is comparatively healthy. It is her mind that is sick, and a mind cannot heal without laughter. Mirth is God’s medicine.
Just a suggestion! If your day is so dark that you cannot find any reason to laugh, look at the Apostle Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:8, “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Try it! Surely somewhere in these thoughts you will find a reason for laughter.
The most wasted of all days is a day without laughter.
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!