Laughter can lift the crushed soul and help dissipate the darkness of sadness. Laughter is a powerful prayer, because it defies the thought that pain and sadness always win. Some of my deepest laughs have found birth in the dark night of the soul, which was both a surprise and a blessing. But for too long, Christianity has been the “laugh-less” religion. Jesus has been seen as a “serious,” deity with furrowed brows etching caverns of displeasure across His face. Or perhaps He has been viewed as a “humorless,” deity that tut-tuts the lighter side of life and has no time for levity. Look at all the early paintings and images of Christ and He does not look like He is enjoying life. Unfortunately, this has seeped into the DNA of a movement and needs to come to light in order to unleash the joy that Jesus died for. But in truth, the converse is reality…Jesus was full of life, love, levity and laughter.
Can you imagine the creative agency that fashioned the earth and imagined the platypus never cracked a smile?
Can you imagine that Jesus’ cultural tattoo of “a friend of sinners and a glutton” could have been earned by someone who did not engage in the fun of the people he was branded with?
Can you sense the hilarity behind the translation when Jesus said, “Hey before you judge other people, consider their sin as a sliver you are trying to remove while at the same time admitting the sin in your own life is like a log in your eye!”
It has been stated many times that Jesus’ humor gets lost in translation, and this is true. The Hebraisms and the out right funny sayings of Jesus lose their edge when we translate from Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew to English. I am thankful for translators that unearth His linguistically sharp humor, and allow Jesus to show some of His hilarity.
In Genesis, when Abraham and Sarah find out that they are going to have a baby in their advanced years, Sarah laughs…and then the baby is named Isaac which means “he laughs.”
Have you ever noticed that when you smile, you have a bio-chemical reaction that changes the way you feel? Try it right now, no one is looking…take a full, deep breath and smile from your liver to the creases in your eyes.
We need to laugh more…
We need to smile from our soul…
We need to breathe in the pleasure, beauty and grace of God while we exhale anything that robs us of the joy and freedom Christ offers.
Here are some great quotes I have on laughing, or laughter…read them, smile and find something to laugh at, you’ll live longer and find more beauty in the midst of a biting reality.
“Laughter is America’s most important export.” ~ Walt Disney Company
“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” ~Robert Frost
“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.” ~Maya Angelou
“The earth laughs in flowers.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” ~ Mark Twain
“If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don’t bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he’s a good man.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“Laughter is carbonated holiness.” ~ Anne Lamott
“A strange thing happened to me in my dream. I was rapt into the Seventh Heaven. There sat all the gods assembled. As a special dispensation I was granted the favor to have one wish. “Do you wish for youth,” said Mercury, “or for beauty, or power, or a long life; or do you wish for the most beautiful woman, or any other of the many fine things we have in our treasure trove? Choose, but only one thing!” For a moment I was at a loss. Then I addressed the gods in this wise: “Most honorable contemporaries, I choose one thing — that I may always have the laughs on my side.” Not one god made answer, but all began to laugh. From this I concluded that my wish had been granted and thought that the gods knew how to express themselves with good taste: for it would surely have been inappropriate to answer gravely: your wish has been granted.” ~Søren Kierkegaard
“As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.” ~ Jewish Proverb
“He that is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” ~ Proverbs 15:15
“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” ~ Victor Hugo
“Laughter is the foundation of reconciliation.” ~ St. Francis de Sales
“Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy.” ~ John Cleese
“On average, an infant laughs nearly two hundred times a day; an adult, only twelve. Maybe they are laughing so much because they are looking at us. To be able to preserve joyousness of heart and yet to be concerned in thought: in this way we can determine good fortune and misfortune on earth, and bring to perfection everything on earth.” ~ I Ching
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” ~Robert Fulghum
“Laughter is an instant vacation.” ~Milton Berle
“Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.” ~Bob Newhart
Laughter has health benefits too, for example: (from help-guide)
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
- Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
- Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
- Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Authors Melinda Smith M.A and Jeanne Segal Ph.D note the following tips to help bring more laughter to your daily life:
- Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.
- Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
- When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
- Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
- Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”
So, laugh until your belly hurts and then just a little bit more!