A Cheerful Heart is Good Medicine
Okay...I know that we're living through some tough times these days. There is so much that is going on in our world, our states, our cities, our jobs, and in our families. It's easy to look around and start to feel overwhelmed and deflated by our circumstances.
However...I have a cure for those blahs!
One of my favorite Proverbs says that, "a cheeful heart is good medicine (17:22)." And I for one believe this to be true with all my heart. Have you ever watched a funny movie, or just got together with your best girl friends and just belly laughed? It's hard to stay depressed when your literally crying and snorting liquid out of your nose. It's actually impossible.
Laughter is good for our health, and here are a few reasons why*:
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. It decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. It improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
There has been a lot of laughter around our house and most of it has been coming from me! Why, you ask? I have been reading a hilarious book that has me laughing out loud and causing the children and my husband to raise their eyebrows (if they are able to do so) and say, "what's so funny?" And, I can't answer...because I'm laughing so hard.
It's all because of this book called, Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff. A Facebook friend posted something from his blog a few months ago. I happened to read it and thought it was hysterical and so true. I have been reading his blog ever since. And last week, his book came out. I picked it up at the local bookstore and ever since then....laughter...and lots of it. Granted, it is a specific type of inside humor for those of us who have "grown up in the church." It really is its own culture with customs, colloquialism...all that jazz. So, it might not be apt for everyone. But, for those who are familiar with the "culture of Christianity," I highly recommend it. A few of Acuff's funny excerpt titles to get things going, "Judging Fundamentalists for Being Judgmental," "Being Slightly Offended That the Pastor Has a Nicer Car Than You Do," "Trying to Say Something Christiany Without Looking Like a Snake Handler," and finally, "Using Vacation Bible School as Free Babysitting."
But beyond that, it's reminding me of how nice it is to hear the peals of laughter rather than voices raised in anger or in squabbling. And, it's infectious. The harder I laugh, the better mood I am in. The better mood I am in, the kinder and more patient I seem to be with my children. The more patient and kind I am with my children, the nicer they are to each other. It's just trickles on down.
The second part of the Proverb about laughter continues on to say, "but a broken spirit saps a person's strength."
I don't know about you, but I need more strength these days to face this unstable and unknown future. I know that sometimes it can feel almost inappropriate to laugh in the face of so many terrible circumstances. But, I would argue that this is precisely the time to do so. When you choose to open yourself up to laughter, you're telling the anguish, depression, illness, death, job loss that it's not going to win. It's not going to destroy you.
So, as simple as it may seem....rent that funny movie (or pull out an old favorite), check out or buy a funny book, go to a comedy show, make time for giggle fests with friends.
It might just be the cure for what ails us!
*Info on laughter taken from http://helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm