CBN: De-Stress: Laughter is the best medicine

De-Stress 

Laughter is the Best Medicine … Really

By Samantha Landy Faith and Fitness Magazine

      

CBN.com – In our busy, over-committed world, laughter seems to have been lost  along the way. We don’t find much of it in our everyday lives. We have  to choose to follow after it. As we age, it is so easy to get  overwhelmed with the varied challenges we face, and we neglect the very  thing that will help us deal with our issues and challenges.
Laughter is one thing we can choose to help us in our circumstances.  I’ve been studying a lot about laughter and the potential power it has  in our lives. Of course, my favorite is affirming, loving words from  someone who thinks I’m terrific and makes me laugh. I had one such  phone call today, and after I hung up, I had a little smile in my heart  and on my face all day long. Maybe you should make such a phone call  to a friend of yours?
If you choose to smile, even when you don’t feel like it, others will  almost always respond automatically with a smile in return. A friend of  mine said, “Smiling is rather like a kiss—in order to get any good out  of it, you have to give it to someone else.” However, that isn’t  necessarily so. We can choose to smile or even laugh when we are alone  and lighten our own life.
Physically, a smile requires the use of approximately 36 muscles, but a  frown uses 97 muscles. Also, a smile releases the muscles on your  scalp, which in turn lets the blood flow more easily, which brings more  oxygen to the brain, which results in a buoyancy in your personality.  At the point of choosing to smile and laugh, you may not feel happier,  but as you continue to smile, releasing the oxygen into the brain, you  actually become happier!
There is another benefit to smiling and especially laughing. Medically,  doctors know that good blood flow to the brain is critical for  efficient and comprehensive brain functioning. So when we laugh more, it  stands to reason we should have a better functioning brain. Maybe  that’s the reason I keep forgetting where I put my glasses; I’m not  laughing enough!
If we are going through a stress-filled day, and make the decision to  have even one moment in the day for ourselves, to experience laughter  and joy, it will change our lives. We must train ourselves to keep  looking at the possibilities in any situation rather than the problems.  As we take time to dwell on the possibilities, we will amaze ourselves  as our subconscious works and solutions appear, enabling us to handle  the challenge more effectively.
Where can we find joy and laughter when our lives are stressed out and  everything seems to be crashing around us? As I have had to learn for  myself, there are resources; we just have to choose to tap into them.  One easy place to find laughter is to go to funny movies or watch them  on TV. Sometimes it is only in the laughter provided by external  sources that we can find relief.
Some time ago I was traveling and had put in a long 8-hour day on the  road. In addition to the exhaustion of driving, I also had  insurmountable difficulties in my life at the time, and so most of those  eight hours were spent “mullygrubbing” around in the mess of my life.
As I was looking for a hotel that evening, I noticed a comedy was  playing at the local theatre. Thankfully, it was also a PG13. It’s been  said that laughter is like scrubbing out our insides, and so I went to  the movie and chose to laugh. Afterward, the tragic circumstances of my  life had not changed, but inside my body, I had changed. I was more  relaxed and able to face my life.
I have studied enough about affirming words and laughter to know that  good, out-loud laughter actually releases endorphins into the brain.  When endorphins are released into the body, and oxygen is released into  the brain eventually, we will feel up-lifted and relaxed.
But what happens when we don’t have someone to encourage us and life  gets tough? I imagine most people are like I am; we have all had  formidable issues in life, perhaps some more than others. But even  during the difficult times, we can choose our attitude about life. We  may not be able to change the circumstances, but we can choose how we  respond to them.
Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor wrote a book, Man’s Search for Meaning.  He said it was in the concentration camp experiences that he learned,  “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the  human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of  circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Our attitude is the most important characteristic of the quality of our  life, as we deal with various aspects of aging. There will often be  circumstances we can’t change or control, but our attitude determines  how we define our existence.
One bedrock source that will help us keep a good attitude in times of  tragedy is to remember to pray about our lives, about our  circumstances. Does it feel like I’ve changed the subject? Not really. The wisdom of King Solomon supports my approach to a good attitude and  laughter as well: “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
As we continue processing our lives in these years over fifty, our  faith in God, our dependence on Him, and our attitude will shape our  relationships and circumstances. When we stay in faith and walk in  excellence, we will see God’s plan and destiny for our lives unfold.  While our past history may teach us about our mistakes, it is in  choosing to live in the moment, choosing to look to the future God has  for us, that will enable us to live in Hope, Joy, and Love. As we seek  God’s wisdom, walking through the events of our lives, we will be able  to move from success to lives of significance.
I believe that keeping our faith strong in the Lord, combining that  with a love for adventure, an appetite for learning, a curious mind, and  a sense of humor will help us in these challenging years from fifty and  beyond.
Underline this verse in your Bible to remind you of one of God’s promises: “Since  my youth, O God, you have taught me and to this day I declare your  marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God,  till I declare Your power to the next generation, Your might to all who  are to come.”


Samantha LandySamantha Landy serves on several national Christian boards and  is best known as an international conference and retreat speaker as  well as author of over eight books. She also hosts the program “60  Seconds for Savvy Singles” heard on Christian radio stations  nationwide. To find out more, visit her website at www.samanthalandy.com.

From Faith &  Fitness Magazine April/May 2008.  Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2008 Faith & Fitness Magazine and Lifestyle Media Group.

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