"Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place." So said American humorist Mark Twain.
Oh, how true that is. Humor and laughter have been proven to be a good medicine for the mind, for the heart and for the soul.
"How Laughter Works" by Marshall Brain explains that laughter does many things. It reduces stress and benefits the immune system, which helps us fight diseases. Laughter is also a great exerciser. Laughing 100 times provides as much as 15 minutes on an exercise bike, and laughter is great for your mental health. It actually releases stored up negative emotions such as anger, fear and sadness (http://people.howstuffworks.com/laughter7.htm).
There is strong evidence that laughter can actually improve health. I am reminded of my dear friend and coworker, Carole Gholson. Carole works in mail processing at the home office and has been fighting stage IV breast cancer for months. From the chemo treatments she has lost all of her hair, and her energy level is very hard to maintain. She still comes to work and, for me and all those around her, she has been a shining example.
Even though Carole has lost her hair and her normal energy, there are two things she has not lost: her faith in God and her wonderful sense of humor. Instead of us encouraging her, she spends a lot of time encouraging us. One of the ways she does this is through humor.
Every day Carole sends something funny to her closest friends—a joke, a cartoon, a funny photo—that lifts us up and makes us laugh. This moment of laughter bonds us together and says that we are all in this together, but let's have some fun along the way.
Cultural anthropologist Mahadev Apte says, "Laughter occurs when people are comfortable with one another, when they feel open and free. And the more laughter [there is], the more bonding [occurs] within the group" (http://people.howstuffworks.com/laughter2.htm).
It would be easy for Carole to go the other route, that of self-pity, but she has chosen the route of faith in God and laughter, for hand in hand they are both the best medicine, not just for her, but for all those around her.
We all have our trials to deal with, but traveling that difficult road with laughter energizes us, changes our negative emotions and is a wonderful medicine to the soul. "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Proverbs 17:22 Proverbs 17:22A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.
American King James Version×).
Laughter is one of the great gifts God has given us. God knew the importance of laughter way before the scientists discovered how valuable it is to our well-being. It is an important ingredient to our survival in this difficult world.