Had a good laugh lately?
We all need to laugh. I’m talking about truly joyful laughter. The kind that comes from your soul and leaves you feeling refreshed.
There’s a popular little e-book floating around the internet called 12 Things that Happy People Do. Number nine on the list is “savor life’s joys.” The author, Jacob Sokol, writes that “Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences… It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.” Sokol is writing from a secular perspective, but he hits on a deeply spiritual truth here. There is joy inherent in God’s creation; it’s there for us to “fully experience” if we choose to, no matter what storms may be swirling around us.
Laughter is a gift from God and an expression of delight at His handiwork. And though it’s not exactly the first thing you think of when you hear the words, “spiritual discipline,” it does have a spiritual dimension. When I’m laughing from that truly joyful place, I feel closer to my Creator, and in that “fullness of joy” I like to think that I’m experiencing a little taste of heaven.
Laughter is good for the body too. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that “a cheerful heart is good medicine,” and modern medical research tends to agree. There are indications that laughter may reduce stress, improve the immune system, and increase your pain tolerance. An active sense of humor has even been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Another key facet of laughter is the ability to laugh at yourself.
Every year during the annual Salvation Army National Advisory Board meeting, one of the members writes a funny song describing the events and happenings from the weekend. The song is always set to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and several volunteers get up and sing it in front of the group. This year, I volunteered, along with the Salvation Army Commissioner Nancy Roberts and former First Lady Laura Bush, among others. It was tons of fun, but totally haphazard. I have to say, when you’ve spent the week sitting in rooms full of “important” people, it can be easy to start to take yourself a little too seriously. We didn’t have that luxury here. Our small group of performers had only about ten minutes to practice (in the men’s bathroom of all places!) before we sang to the whole group of distinguished guests. Gulp.
And was it a masterpiece? Well, no. See for yourself:
Admittedly, we’re not going to top the iTunes charts any time soon, but it was a truly joyful moment, and a memory I’ll treasure. I mean seriously, how many people can say they’ve been singing in the bathroom with a former First Lady? But this fun memory is one I could have easily missed out on if I wasn’t able to go out on a limb a little and laugh at myself.
Praise the Lord for laughter, and for bathroom acoustics.
How important is laughter to you? Do you think God has a sense of humor?