I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person. ~ Audrey Hepburn
I was in a mall recently with my husband when we passed an elderly woman with a serious scowl on her face. (Have you noticed that older people seem to scowl a lot?) There are plenty of studies that prove it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown, although I don't know why. Gravity has been working on our frowns for decades now and it shows!
Anyway, I turned to him and said, "Remind me as I get older to smile more. I don't ever want to look like an old sourpuss."
I don't know why older people seem so out-of-sorts and angry. We've lived through decades of trials and tribulations, raised kids and cared for parents, worked more hours and overcome more catastrophes than I'd care to count, and survived it all. That should be reason enough to grin. Whew!
Age, of course is relative. There are plenty of 'youngsters' who look like they suck on lemons, too. They seem to be so caught up in the drama of their lives that they've forgotten joy and humor. If they would only realize that laughter is one of life's secret weapons. It helps overcome trials at every age.
Bernard Baruch, a businessman and politician, used to say, "I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am." He lived to a ripe young age, missing his 95th birthday by just two months. Almost every photo of him shows at least a slight smile on his face, and that is something to emulate.
I remember as a kid, my mom and I played board games at the kitchen table after my siblings went to bed. Some silliness would set us both off and we'd laugh until our tummies hurt. I've enjoyed moments like that with girlfriends, as well as my hubby (who keeps me laughing much of the time). In fact, I laugh much more now than I ever remember during my early adult years.
The benefits of laughter are widely researched, but the bottom line is, laughing just makes you feel good. The more you laugh, the better you feel. Here are some other benefits of laughter.
Laughter soothes stress.
Happy is he... whose hope is in the Lord his God (Ps. 146:5). Did you notice that happy goes hand in hand with hope? Hope and happiness are the opposite of discouragement, pessimism and fear. Laughter is the antidote for every conceivable concern, trial or dilemma. It reduces stress and eases tension by changing the chemicals released by the brain. When things get tough, I've learned to laugh on purpose. (Try it, it works!) And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope (Job 11:18).
Laughter improves health.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine (Prov. 17:22). Laughter is healing. Physically, it increases your heart rate and oxygen intake. After a good laugh, your body relaxes. Laughing also increases the production of endorphins, which are your body's natural pain killers.
Have you noticed how much better you feel, both physically and mentally, when you laugh? And, the more you laugh the better you feel! Unlike bottled medications, there are no negative side-effects to laughter so you can't overdose. Laughter is a great mood-enhancer. You won't need drugs (legal or illegal) if you'll put more laughter in your life. Hope thou in God, who is the health of my countenance and my God (Ps. 42:11).
Laughter eases depression.
Laughing, both at funny stuff and at yourself, lessens tension and depression. Shared laughter is therapeutic, so much so that laughter therapy is recognized as a valid psychological treatment.
Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth (Eccl. 11:9). I've heard it said that 'youth is wasted on the young'. Too often, youth is so wrapped up in negatives - what they don't have, what they can't get, 'what's wrong with me', that they ignore opportunities for joy.
Laughter puts things in perspective.
... whoso trusts in the Lord, happy is he (Prov. 16:20). One of the advantages of 'older' is the ability to relax in trauma and turmoil. The angst of my younger years has been replaced by experience, knowing that even the most difficult circumstances usually sort themselves out. You and I are stronger than we believe, but that understanding usually comes from hindsight. The ability to laugh at yourself and your situations makes them seem less dire. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Laughter makes you look younger.
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance... (Prov. 15:13). The Bible talks a lot about joy and a merry heart. God's commandments (the full list, not just the Top Ten) included lots of feast days with wine and food. Why? Because He enjoys a good party as much as we do! David danced before the Lord. Even their sacrifices were offered with great joy, for God had made them rejoice with great joy... so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off (Neh. 12:43). That must have been some celebration! And it happened often in both the Old and New Testaments.
Smiling is the quickest, most pain-free, least expensive face-lift available. Don't believe me? Stand in front of a mirror and practice. Your eyes brighten; your face looks friendlier. Actually, I remind myself often throughout the day to smile, whether anyone is watching or not. I just want the practice.
Laughter produces strength.
No matter how difficult your situation seems, find something to laugh about. The Bible proclaims, the joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh. 8:10). Joy is defined as great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying, keen pleasure or elation. The ability to laugh at yourself and your circumstances helps keep them in perspective. Be strong and of good courage; dread not, not be dismayed (I Chron. 22:13). It's hard to be dismayed when you're laughing.
Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever ruled God's people, recognized there is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Eccl. 3:4). Life's troubles are many. We all know that. But if you will put more laughter in your life, those troubles will seem less... well, troublesome.
You are God's child and a joint heir with Jesus! You've got all the power of heaven behind you! Paul reminded the Philippians, who were dealing with some significant issues: Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, "Rejoice!" The Lord is at hand. Fret not about anything... (Phil. 4:4, 6). Instead of being upset or depressed, laugh!
Your attitude is your choice. You can choose giggles or gloomy. So why not laugh on purpose? Laugh because it feels good. Share a smile (or a joke) with everyone you meet. Put more laughter in your life!