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Laughter — The Best Medicine

Laughter — The Best Medicine

What is this? I wondered. Am I witnessing mass hysteria? Did I forget to take my medication?

The roomful of people walked about bowing to one another. None of them spoke but all of them were laughing uncontrollably. A full minute ticked by on the clock, then five... then ten... And the laughter rolled on. 

Maybe everyone had lost their minds.
Or maybe not.

Everyone in the euphoric group was actually in the fight of their lives against cancer. As part of their treatment, they had come together for Laughter Therapy.1

It sounds a little bit ludicrous at first, doesn’t it? After all, cancer is a formidable enemy. Wouldn’t it make better sense to show up for battle with a more menacing weapon than a good belly laugh?

Some health care professionals aren’t so sure. They point to the benefits of laughter: it strengthens our immune system, improves circulation, and helps us manage pain. Apparently there is truth to the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.”

God Himself first spoke that truth long, long ago. Proverbs 17:22 says,

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

The word cheerful here can also be translated “joyful.” You may have considered some of the emotional, spiritual, and even mental benefits of living a joyful life, but did you know that the Great Healer has prescribed joy as good medicine for your body too?

Life offers many challenging and beautiful paths to joy, but don’t ever forget this very simple one: a heart that is ready to embrace the gift of laughter.

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once wrote, “Humor is, in fact, a prelude to faith; and laughter is the beginning of prayer.”2 Now, of course, many circumstances are not laughing matters; for those, only faith is up to the task. But often, when faced with challenges and even suffering, as those folks fighting cancer knew, a good sense of humor can be key. Laughter can defuse tension in our relationships, release stress, and remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. In the process, it also opens up space for joy!

Why not give it a try today? The next time a friend or family member irritates you, or someone cuts you off in traffic, or some other frustration comes close to stealing your joy, laugh it off. Don’t let it have power over you. Let yourself lighten up instead.

  • Think of the funniest joke you’ve ever heard and let the good times roll.
  • Imagine your cat in a tuxedo or your husband in a hula skirt!
  • Picture your best friend making that goofy face that always makes you giggle.

I think you’ll find that the promise of Proverbs is still true. A cheerful heart is good medicine for your mind, your heart, and your body too!

Commit to having a daily dose of laughter!

Five Minutes in the Word

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. — Job 8:21

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. — Proverbs 15:13

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter. — Psalm 126:1-2

Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. — Proverbs 15:30

May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. — Psalm 68:3

1.“Laughter Yoga Therapy for Cancer Patients,” YouTube, June 14, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeTVjPK4yIY.
2.Reinhold Niebuhr, The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr (Binghamton, NY: Yale University, 1986), 49.

Excerpted with permission from 5 Minutes with Jesus: A Fresh Infusion of Joy by Sheila Walsh, copyright Sheila Walsh.

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Your Turn

How long has it been since you've had a good belly-laugh? How about today we do that today?! We need joy, friends! Even if our circumstances are hard and painful, we were created for joy in the Lord. Let out a laugh today! Come share with us. We want to hear from you about a glad heart! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

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