By Pastor Royston Smith and Dr R David
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
It is said that laughter is a normal and natural response to certain stimuli within the environment. Research has shown that laughter has positive physiological effects on those who regularly indulge in it. Normally, this physical reaction is often characterised by a distinct repetitive vocal sound, facial expression and involves a variety of muscle groups. Of such Jeremiah 31:13 teaches, “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.” “Laughter is the best medicine,” isn’t just a trite expression. St. Thomas Aquinas himself said “It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.”
What is the biology of laughter? Job 8:21 (NIV) says that, “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Describing the biology of laughter, Dr R. David informed me that, “In the face, the zygomaticus major and minor muscles anchor at the cheekbones and stretch down towards the jaw to pull the facial expression upward.” She also observed that, “On top of this, the zygomaticus major also pulls the upper lip upward and outward. This is the muscle responsible for making your face smile.” Finally, she voiced that, the sound of laughter is produced by the larynx while the vocal cords close with the periodic activation of the respiratory muscles, producing the characteristic rhythmic sound of laughing. Wow, God is amazing! Laughter is an amazing ability that God gave us all. Laughter helps us cope with sadness and life.
How do you benefit from a good laugh? Researchers indicate that spontaneous genuine laughter can improve your mood, lessen depression, while at the same time minimize anxiety and stress. Studies have linked laughter to increased levels of pain tolerance. Similarly, it has been observed that the body (heart) responds to a bout of laughter in a similar manner as it does to exercise. Genesis 21:6 (The Message (MSG)) says: “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born. Sarah (was 90) said, God has blessed me with laughter and all who get the news will laugh with me.” Hence, Rebecca Bowden voiced, “When you laugh, you draw others into that playful, effervescent space. Laughter can be a powerful way to create social bonds, and collapse barriers between people.”
So, laughing is a choice. It is a natural response. It provides joy amidst life’s mess and pain. Wisely, Office Gal writes; “Of all God’s gifts to man, laughter is one of the most subtle and is one of the most precious. It has neither nationality nor religion. As an equalizer, it has no equal. Even science which can do so many things can’t teach us to laugh. Mirth is from God, dullness from the devil When you laugh you agree with God that all is good. Even God himself laughs. Capturing God’s laugh, Psalm 2:4 (TLB) says: “But God in heaven merely laughs! He is amused by all their puny plans.” This sparkling feeling, bubbles on the inside. Suddenly, it spills out, thereby releasing this rejuvenating rush. Laughter renews you! Laughter calms you. Laughter lightens you. Your laugh is highly contagious.
A conversation between a teacher and her student illustrates the naturalness, beauty and joy of a good laugh.
TEACHER—”Freddie, you mustn’t laugh out loud in the schoolroom.”
FREDDIE—”I didn’t mean to do it. I was smiling, and the smile busted.”
Go on! You know you want to! It is happening now! A smile! A laugh! Big Belly fully!
Isaiah 55:12-13 The Message (MSG)
“So you’ll go out in joy,
you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.
The mountains and hills will lead the parade,
bursting with song.
All the trees of the forest will join the procession,
exuberant with applause.
No more thistles, but giant sequoias,
no more thornbushes, but stately pines.”
An example of a laughter prescription:
F – Frequency: At minimum, once a week
I – Intensity: Belly laughing
T – Time: 30 minutes
T – Type: Your favourite event: family meeting, sit-com, time out with friends