I have been thinking about the power of laughter the last few days. One of our children was feeling a bit “down” as they were fighting off a cold. I kept on thinking on the bible verse which says, ” A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17:22). We kept on finding things to laugh and smile about for the next few hours. Their mood was lifted, and they started to feel better.

Mankind has been created with a great capacity for joy. You could say laughter is our birthright, as natural to us as breathing. Babies begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh and chuckle within a few months of being born. They just know how to smile and laugh!

Humor is infectious. The sight of someone laughing uncontrollable is contagious. My husband is particularly hilarious when he laughs. He ends up practically rolling on the floor with tears streaming down his face, unable to speak as he chuckles, and then roars with laughter. You can’t help but laugh along with him.

Laughter like that draws people together, and increases happiness and intimacy. It also   triggers healthy physical changes in the body, strengthening our immune system, boosting energy levels, diminishing pain, and protecting us from the damaging effects of stress.  Laughter brings our mind and body back into balance as it lightens our burdens, inspires hopes, reminds of the joy of being alive and connects us to others. God knew what he was talking about when he said “A cheerful heart is good medicine”

It is a priceless gift, and best of all it has no damaging side effects, but immense benefits, and it’s free!

Laughter can also be a powerful and effective way to bring healing, dissolving disagreements, and hurts. Even at times of death and loss, such as when my brother and Dad died, I quickly learnt that if I remembered happier times and funny moments with them, I ended up smiling and even laughing, instead of only crying.

Sometimes life can try to beat the laughter out of us. We can find ourselves rarely smiling, much less laughing. But there is a remedy.

We can begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter; eventually it become part of who we are, especially if we allow Jesus to restore and heal our heart, exchanging our tears for His joy. He says, “The thief (devil) comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” (John 10:10)

You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11-12)

Here are some other ways to help laughter become part of our day:

1.Count your blessings. Give thanks for what you do have. What have we really got to be unhappy about. Most of the time it is momentary worries and concerns which in the big scheme of our life’s story are of no consequence. I have a saying. “If we won’t remember it in 20 years it probably isn’t worth stressing about”.

2.Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. It’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same is true for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly amusing, practice smiling. The world and it’s inhabitants are really quite hilarious.

When you hear laughter, move toward it.  Most often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again. When you hear laughter, seek it out and check out “What’s so funny?

Spend time with fun, joyful people. Spend time with those people who laugh easily, both at themselves and at life’s hilarious moments. Hang out with those who laugh easily. It’s contagious. St Teresa of Avila stated rather bluntly, “May God protect me from gloomy saints”. Misery loves company, so make sure you aren’t keeping company with it.

Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest or best thing that happened to you today? We regularly ask this at our family dinner times. Kids especially can be very funny with their view of the world and people.  Give people opportunity to share the joy.

Laugh at yourself. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously. We all have embarrassing moments, but some of them are truly hilarious when shared. Plus hopefully when we share them with others and have a good chuckle,  we end up laughing instead of cringing when we think of those moments in the future.

Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up, and be more spontaneous.  Have things around you that make you laugh; a funny poster, a screensaver or ringtone that makes you smile, and memories of  family or friends having fun. Watch a funny movie regularly, spend time doing fun things, try something new and renew your passion and joy for life. We all struggle when we have nothing to look forward to, so find things that you enjoy and then do them.

Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond our control, but they are not beyond God’s. Spend time with Him, and give Him your burdens on a daily basis. It will keep the “laughter thief” stress under control, and lift the weight off your shoulders.

Charlie Chaplin wisely said ” a day without laughter is a day wasted”

Don’t waste any more days. “Cast all your cares upon Jesus, for He cares for you”, then smile, laugh (ha ha ha ho ho ho), and embrace the gift of your day. (1 Peter 5:7)

Prayer: Lord I want to thank you for the gift of laughter. Would you lift off my burdens and concerns, and fill my mouth with laughter. I don’t want to spend another day without laughter in it. In Jesus Name Amen.