You know it to be true: The world’s a total mess and it’s not going to get any better. It’s been a mess ever since that moment in “The Garden” and always will be until His Return. The absolute insanity of this world can give us an awful lot to frown about if we so choose. In fact, you may find it difficult to find anything to laugh about nowadays. Yes, the world’s mess is becoming a lot messier, therefore the more important it is to… laugh at and with the appropriate things.
There’s an unbalanced emphasis on nutrition and exercise nowadays. So much so that it’s easy to forget that there are many other things that have just as much an important influence on your health. One of those surprising things that can literally make or break your health is laughter. Laughter truly gives you the power to be well.
Believe it or not, some hard-nosed scientists have looked at this matter seriously. They wanted to know what effects laughter has on health. And what they discovered is that laughter truly may be the best medicine. Therefore, we really do need to learn to laugh it off.
Stress is an inescapable part of life. From near accidents to confrontations to loss, we all face various degrees of stress all the time. Some stress can actually improve our health. And some stress can destroy our health. Stress is also a demand placed upon our faith. Without it our faith will not, cannot, grow. The problem isn’t stress, but rather chronic stress and even worse is a poor stress response. Unbridled stress eats away at us and will eventually cause us great problems. Stress should take us back to the basics. Those under stress often seek God.
When a stressful thing happens, your body produces hormonal changes, preparing you for “fight, freeze or flight.” Those changes should be short term. Once the stressor is over, the changes should go back to a non-stressed state. But that’s where a lot of folks get stuck. They don’t return to the non-stressed state completely.
Over time, that chronic stress has been proven to wreak absolute havoc in the body. Researchers are connecting the dots between chronic stress and a long list of diseases that includes heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Of course there are lots of everyday things we can do to improve our stress response, from better sleep – to better nutrition – to sunlight – to exercise – to drinking more water – to Chiropractic care (I personally specialize in taking care of the excessive stresses that have been placed upon a person’s body, soul and spirit). Now you can add laughter as one of those everyday things we all can do. And the effects are powerful.
When you laugh, it exercises your stress response, making you more emotionally agile. And if you’ve been stuck in a chronic stress overdrive, laughter can give you a much needed reset. After laughing, your stress hormones will drop. The result? Not only will you feel better, you’ll also be reducing your risk of disease.
Some Interesting Facts about Laughter
- People are 30 times more likely to laugh in a social setting than sitting by their lonesome.
- Throughout the day, the average adult releases around 17 laughs.
- Laughing is beneficial to your health – it can lower blood sugar and blood pressure, reduce stress and burn calories.
- The study of laughter, or gelotology, is a formal scientific area of study.
- Laughing is good exercise, but it takes laughing 100 times to equal 15 minutes of exercise on a bike. That’s a lot of giggles, so think about it before giving up your workout regimen.
- Research has shown that test subjects who simply heard laughter usually smiled or started laughing themselves.
- Education and where you live may influence what you think is funny, but differences in age take the cake. What’s funny to a kindergartner and a teenager is as different as night and day.
- Hunter “Patch” Adams was known for clowning around throughout hospitals to entertain and comfort patients. Played by Robin Williams in the 1998 film “Patch Adams,” his preference for laughter drove him to open the Gesundheit! Institute to treat people with various illnesses.
- Similar to using punctuation during natural pauses in speech, the “punctuation effect” occurs when people laugh during natural breaks in conversation.
- Unlike emotion, laughter spans across several regions in the brain. Researchers are coming closer to understanding how this neurological sequence of actions leads to our chuckles.
Good for Your Heart
By improving stress resilience, laughter can indirectly improve heart health. But it turns out that laughter is also good for the heart in other ways. And that’s very good news since heart disease remains the biggest threat to our health.
Laughter alters blood flow in ways that other emotional expressions don’t. In one study, for example, two groups were shown two different movies – a drama and a comedy. The participants were monitored for blood flow during and after the screening. Those who watched the drama had restricted blood flow. But those who watched the comedy had more supple blood vessels and better blood flow.
Improves Blood Sugar Control
Type 2 diabetes continues to pose an increasing threat to our health. Could a disease of blood sugar control be related to laughter? Science says it might. Research has shown that laughter can reduce high blood sugar among diabetics.
One of the best studied effects of laughter is its ability to reduce pain. Research into this began when it was noted that people who laugh seem to tolerate pain much better than those who don’t laugh very much.
What science has found is that laughter helps to regulate the body’s natural pain management system. Ten minutes of laughter is reported to offer hours of pain relief and improved sleep.
The increasing evidence of the benefits of laughter have turned the practice of laughing into a new form of therapy. Scientists and doctors alike agree that laughter can help those who are in need of improved immune function, heart health, pain relief, improved sleep, and more. The wonderful thing about laughter therapy is that it is accessible to everyone, and you don’t need to pay a therapist to get the benefits.
Here are some obvious ways to increase the amount of laughter in your life:
- Watch more comedies. There’s nothing wrong with watching a drama, sci-fi, or action-adventure movie. But next time you’re browsing NetFlix or planning to go to the theater, check out a comedy. It may be just what you need.
- Trade off clean jokes with friends. Science proves that laughter is good and laughter with friends is even better. Avoid crude joking because it hurts your spirit and others.
- Watch the hilarious Tim Hawkins videos on YouTube or go to his live comedy show that’s family “clean” (check out his video clips). I guarantee you’ll be laughing within seconds of watching him.
- Revisit from time to time such classics as The Three Stooges, I Love Lucy, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin skits and movies, Carol Burnett, or Bob Hope and Bing Crosby movies (or a quick Bob Hope political laugh) for a lot of good, clean health-giving laughs.
To get the benefits from laughing, you don’t have to actually think or see that something is funny. Just the action of laughing is proven to be beneficial. And for this reason, many laughter therapy experts say that you can get some of the greatest benefits by simply practicing laughter every day.
How can you practice laughter? Set aside 5-10 minutes each day, preferably somewhere private. Turn up the corners of your mouth into a smile and let out a laugh. You don’t have to feel like laughing. At first it may seem a bit forced. But after a few moments, you may find that the laughter is happening on its own.
For more laughter information read the article here on FGGAM: Laugh it Out Loud!
Excessive stress is God’s megaphone to get our attention. But a lot of us are hard of hearing. We ignore physical, mental, and spiritual warning signs. God wants us to tune our ears to the messages He sends us through our minds and bodies. He designed our body to send us a lot of different kinds of messages. If you stick your hand in fire, your body will send you a real quick and clear message. If you ignore it, you’ll pay a painful and terribly stressful price. Knowing the all-powerful God is on the throne of the universe – God our Father committed to our good – we’re relieved of much stress. And the stress we must still experience leaves us far richer.
Many years ago King Solomon wrote that laughter is a good medicine and that the opposite of laughter causes serious health problems: Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” There are many wonderful, healing benefits of laughter. To protect your health and to feel good, put more laughter in your life – especially with loved ones – because laughter truly does give you the power to be well.