When I see two-year-old Beth walking up to my house, I feel joy – partly because she is my granddaughter and partly because Beth is almost always happy. She loves to laugh. Her robust giggles bubble up freely from her belly.
Why is it that we tend to laugh less when we get older?
Perhaps it’s because we grow aware of all there is to grow heavy hearted about: work and financial pressures, health concerns, the discord and violence in our world.
Then there’s our kids – those little people we love with all our hearts and want the very best for. (I care just as much about what happens to my grandkids as I did their parents – only there’s now 11 of them!) Being earnest about parenting (or grand-parenting), we consider carefully each and every decision and work diligently to help our little ones mature. In troubling times, it’s easy to grow overly serious and let go of joy.
Also, the busyness of life gets in way. Maybe we run out of time to laugh. The old proverb “If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy” certainly rings true for me at times. That’s why I love to be around Beth. She reminds me to take the time to be joyful.
Here’s five reasons why we should laugh more:
ONE: Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. – Victor Borge
“We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.” (Author, Agnes Repplier) Laughter triggers positive feelings and fosters emotional connection. This bond can serve as a shield against stress, arguments and disappointments. Think about how this can impact your family relationships:
- Laugh with (not at) your children, to get then to listen with you.
- Laugh with (not at) your spouse to let go of defensiveness.
- Laugh with your family to get out of your own thoughts and away from your own worries.
- Laugh to release anger and be more forgiving.
TWO: What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul. – Yiddish Proverb
Proverbs 17:22 says that a joyful heart is good medicine. Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say about laughter: “When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
Stimulate many organs.Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
Activate and relieve your stress response.A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
Soothe tension.Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Improve your immune system.Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.”
THREE: Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects. – Arnold Glasow
I notice that Kate, my 9 year old granddaughter, can get silly before she steps up on the blocks at a swim meet, especially when it’s a race she knows she can do well in. It appears as if she is not focused or thinking about her race, but I think it is actually the way she releases stress.
Laughter is a great form of stress relief. It balances our mind and body by lightening burdens and enhancing focus and alertness. Abraham Lincoln said, “With the fearful strain that is on me day and night, if I did not laugh I should die.”
FOUR: Laughter is the corrective force which keeps us from becoming cranks. – Henri Bergson
Nothing diffuses conflict faster than laughing together. When my husband and I look on the humorous side of things, it puts our troubles into perspective and allows us to move on from confrontation and let go of resentment. Laughter is one way to infuse joy into our homes, which should be pleasant sanctuaries where we are able to take a break from the pressures we face outside it’s walls. Being light hearted certainly does not negate responsibility. We may even wind up being more productive when we don’t wear ourselves out with heavy ladened hearts.
FIVE: Laughter makes us fun to be around.
I am drawn to joyful people and I am inspired by people who have made the joy of the Lord their strength. As Christians, we have so much to be thankful and joyful for. May the legacy we pass onto our children be one of JOY.
Psalm 30:5 – For His anger is but for a moment and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 28:7 – The kingdom of God is of righteousness and peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 16:11 – You have made know to me the path of life in; in your presence there is fullness of JOY; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.