A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)
When was the last time you had a really good laugh? While I frequently try to find something on TV that will induce laughter, I usually only end up finding drama, violence, politics, or reality shows. However, I find laughter in cartoons, funny little blurbs, or unexpectedly in conversation. (Thank God for the unexpected silliness of friends!)
Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after a good laugh? Laughter actually helps you relax and can leave your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after a good laugh. Additionally, laughter releases endorphins (Robinson, Smith, & Segal, 2019)–our body’s “feel good” chemical and a natural painkiller, serotonin, our natural antidepressant, and good neuropeptides, chemical communicators in our brains. Laughing increases one’s intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation (Mayo Clinic, 2019).
Laughter also triggers the production of key neurochemicals, such as dopamine, which has a calming effect. (Who needs that? All of us!). Additionally, laughing has anti-anxiety benefits, as well as provides pleasure and reward. It increases the brain’s gamma wave frequency, which is responsible for addressing information processing, improved memory, and stress reduction. Neuroscience tells us that gamma frequency enhances the brain’s cognitive levels.
One study in Norway even found that people with a good sense of humor outlive those who don’t laugh as much (Rodriguez, 2016). Isn’t it amazing to think that laughing could help you live a longer life? Then again, in Proverbs 17:22 we read, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” We shouldn’t be surprised when modern science confirms what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago!
When it comes to this “good medicine,” there’s no cost, no prescription from your doctor needed, no insurance that has to give approval. Plus, laughter is contagious. You do your own body good by laughing, as well as benefitting another’s!
Laughter takes care of the whole body: mind, body and spirit–it’s all connected. Let’s laugh as often as we can!
Mayo Clinic (2019). Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456
Robinson, L., Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2019). Laughter is the best medicine. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm
Rodriguez, T. (2016). Laugh lots, live longer. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/laugh-lots-live-longer/