BY LEANN DILBECK –
Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? Whether it’s a giggle from something brutally honest spoken from a child’s mouth or to that big ol’ belly laugh that a good time with great friends can bring about… it’s truly healing to the soul.
The health benefits of it are well documented, ranging from lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow, reducing stress, improving alertness & creativity to being good for the abs… laughter triggers endorphins that leave us feeling happier and more relaxed. Endorphins are essential to coping with pain and stress.
In fact, the benefits of laughter were noted in some of the world’s earliest printed
texts. A hymn from the Rig Veda, the earliest of the 4 Hindu religious scriptures, the Vedas (c. 1200–900BC), refers to “fun making for the creation of laughter”(IX.112.4).
Today’s culture leaves most of us stretched to find enough time in the day to fit everything in with work and family and, unfortunately, social time with treasured friends or our spouses may sometimes find itself taking a back seat when we are forced to budget, literally, every minute of every day. Those who are fortunate enough to take vacations for rest, relaxation, and restoration, typically only do so once a year… and many times, they come with a hefty price tag, not to mention they are only a few days out of an entire year.
I, for one, get so focused when I have a lot on my plate, that I have been guilty in the past of sacrificing “fun” time until everything on my list was accomplished… well, I’ve learned that those days of feeling like I had conquered my “to do” list are rare! There’s always something to be done! Since I’ve become older, I’ve found a much healthier balance, understanding that finding time to relax and enjoy time with those who split my sides, can actually help my creativity and disposition as a whole.
Even in our deepest grief and deepest valleys of life, it’s ok to laugh. It’s a coping mechanism and not something that we should feel guilty about. Grief can bring about depression, which can depress the immune system… laughter strengthens the immune system. Depression can make it difficult to concentrate. Laughter increases alertness and creativity. The research goes on and on… we have to allow ourselves to have a “time to grieve” and also allow ourselves to enjoy a “time to life,” as we walk through all seasons of life.
A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22
Nothing can instantly restore us, if even for just a moment, like a good laugh can so why do we try to deny ourselves a simple, and sometimes, involuntary, laugh? Some of the best are when we find ourselves in a place where it would be frowned upon, and it is all that we can do to keep it inside… you know the kind. We’ve all had them. Remember, when you were in 4th grade and your best friend points out that the teacher’s zipper is down? The harder you tried not to laugh… the funnier it got! You don’t have to stop having those type of belly laughs just because you’re all grown up and have enough responsibilities to weigh down an elephant.
Our list of priorities should include spending time with those people who help us enjoy the lighter side of life. We all have those friends who are just funny… they’re funny even when they don’t try to be. We may work with them… we may even be married to them. Take time to enjoy the laughter they bring to your life. It will make you a more pleasant soul to those around you and then you too, can bring laughter to someone else’s life.