Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around; it enhances respiration; it is an igniter of great expectations.” ~ Norman Cousins
Are there people in your life who rarely laugh and are chronic complainers? No matter how often you talk to them, they complain regardless of the topic of conversation? Whether it’s about their jobs, their health, the traffic, or their relationships, you almost want to mimic playing a violin when you’re listening to them. And it’s not just what they’re saying, it’s the way they are saying it. You suddenly find yourself tuning them out just as if Charlie Brown’s teacher was talking – “WAHWAH WAH WAHWA!”
They are uptight about life in general – often complaining about headaches, digestive problems, lack of energy, lack of sleep; the list goes on. More often than not, many of these complaints are due to stress in their lives and the inability to cope with it properly. I don’t have the statistics, but we’ve all heard how many people wind up hospitalized as a direct result of stress – whether it’s because of a stress-induced illness or accident.
We’re all familiar with the saying “Laughter is the best medicine,” but did you know that quote actually came from The Bible? Proverbs 17:22 says “A happy heart is like a good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing.” Laughter is like taking medicine – it not only makes you feel better instantly, but it actually releases healing through all of our body systems. When we laugh, it restores and rejuvenates the very things that the stressful pressures of life have sucked out. Think about how you feel after you’ve had a good laugh – you almost feel a release or a “high.”
Medical science even tells that there are therapeutic benefits to laughter. Dr. Lee Berk and researcher Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University in California have been studying the effects of laughter on the immune system. To date their studies have shown that laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called gamma-interferon and B-cells which produce disease-destroying antibodies. That “high” you feel is because the laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers, resulting in a general sense of well-being. Laughter also triggers the right side of the brain, which helps release creativity, helping us to make better decisions.
I think it’s absolutely amazing that we were created with these “God-given” tranquilizers right on the inside of our bodies – like a built in mechanism that triggers what our body needs, right when we need it. I realize that laughter is not the answer to all health issues, but could it be that the headaches, backaches, migraines, chronic pain, chronic fatigue and even depression may be relieved if we would only take the time to play, to laugh and enjoy the life God has given us?
You may think you have no reason to laugh or be joyful, but there are always reasons to laugh. Think back over the course of your life so far, and I’m sure a situation or two will come to you and bring a smile to your face. Get together with family or old friends and start reminiscing about times in your lives that may not have been so funny at the time, but now you can laugh about. Rent a funny movie or old TV series that is light-hearted. Before long, you’ll find yourself forgetting how uptight you were. There are some very funny comedies on TV these days. Although I don’t watch a lot of television, there are definitely a few shows I tune into that I enjoy watching with my family that make us all laugh together.
If we tap into the power of laughter and experience joy on the inside, I truly believe that health and healing will flow. If you’re health isn’t a laughing matter, then maybe it should be!