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25 April – Good Medicine

Mankind has been created with a great capacity for joy. You could say laughter is our birth right, 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!

The sight of someone laughing uncontrollable is contagious. My husband is particularly hilarious when he laughs as he ends up practically rolling on the floor with tears streaming down his face, unable to speak as he first chuckles and then roars with laughter. You can’t help but laugh along with him and at 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 also brings our mind and body back into balance as it lightens our burdens, inspires hopes, reminds us 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.” (Proverbs 17:22)

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

I have discovered that if I set aside time to seek out humor and laughter and to do things I enjoy then laughter and joy become part of who I am, especially if I allow Jesus to restore and heal my heart, exchanging my tears for His joy. Jesus said, “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 your day:

1.Count your blessings. Give thanks for what you do have and don’t focus primarily on the problems of your day because most things are only momentary struggles. 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. Look for small slivers of joy in your day. The world and it’s inhabitants are really quite hilarious.

3. 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?”

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

5. 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, so give people opportunity to share the joy.

6. 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.

7. Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up, and be more spontaneous.  Surround yourself with things that make you smile; 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 to find joy when we have nothing to look forward to, so find things that you enjoy and then do them.

8. 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 any stress under control, and lift the weight off your shoulders.

Charlie Chaplin wisely said ” a day without laughter is a day wasted”, so let’s not waste any more days. “Cast all your cares upon Jesus, for He cares for you”, then look for things to smile at, laugh and embrace the gift of your day. (1 Peter 5:7)

Prayer: Lord I want to thank you for the gift of laughter. Please lift off any burdens and concerns I have and fill my heart with laughter and joy. In Jesus Name Amen.

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