It’s easy to get bogged down with the pain and suffering of the world. Life is hard, sometimes. No one is arguing that.
But God also created us to dwell in joy!
Much evidence exists that God meant for us to laugh, to have fun, and to find ways to enjoy our lives. When God created our bodies, he made them in such a way that laughter is actually physically beneficial to us.
Laughter is a natural response to something that we find funny. Not only does laughter lighten our spirits, but it’s actually good for us physically as well.
Groucho Marx said, “A clown is like an aspirin.”
We’ve all heard the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
And while those quotes don’t exactly come directly from scripture, this proverb is pretty close:
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22
So what is it about laughter that is good for our bodies?
Laughter Increases Blood Flow and Respiration.
Do you ever laugh so hard that you feel like you can’t breathe? When this happens, the diaphragm muscles are engaged, respiration system is on overdrive, and blood flow to the brain is increased. All of these responses to laughter are actually good for the body.
Laughter Reduces Tension.
During laughter, muscles are tensed and tight. Afterwards, physical tension and stress is relieved and the body can benefit from that relaxation going forward for approximately 45 minutes.
Laughter Burns Calories.
Looking for ways to lighten up on the scale? A good belly laugh can help you to lose a few ounces here or there. Plus, laughter may also have the residual effect of producing happiness that helps to minimize stress eating.
Laughter Reduces Pain.
Giving a boost of feel-good chemicals (endorphins), laughter can actually reduce pain. Possibly like the aspirin to which Groucho Marx was referring?
Laughter Boosts the Immune System.
Cortisol and adrenalin are flight-or-flight hormones secreted during stress. Laughter can decrease these stress hormones and increase the cells that fight infections, improving your body’s ability to protect you from disease.
Laughter May Increase Life Span.
One study conducted in Norway has shown that people may actually live longer when they have a strong sense of humor. This may be particularly true for those who are fighting against cancer.
If your daily life doesn’t bring you as many funny moments as you need to really laugh, try being intentional about including laughter in your life. Sign up for a joke-a-day email. Subscribe to a funny YouTube channel. Keep a laughter journal so you can relive funny stories in your memory and bring up positive endorphins and laughter.
When all else fails, you can actually fake laugh. While it doesn’t have exactly the same results as real laughter, if you do it enough (especially with a friend) it can often turn into real laughter and provide numerous health benefits.