Open the paper or turn on the TV news these days and you may be hard-pressed to find
a reason to be joyful.
Unfortunately, our daily lives tend to mimic that dour mood. Too
often our responsibilities—work, family, etc.—make life seem like a never-ending
list of less-than-fun tasks. For some, joy, humor and laughter seem an extravagance
that can be ill afforded. But the truth is, we need joy in our lives. Don’t
believe me? Open your Bible to Proverbs 17:22 and take heed: “A joyful heart
is the health of the body.”
The Bible has a number of references to laughter, including the
story of Sarah and Abraham. When the Lord told Abraham that his wife, Sarah,
would give birth to a son, both of them laughed. They laughed because they were
both rather advanced in age to be having children. But lo and behold, the following
year Sarah and Abraham were blessed with their son, Isaac. The name appropriately
means “He who laughs.”
Taking a Cue From Kids
If there’s one thing I can count on my two kids for, it is to
remind me to rejoice in life and laugh. And they always seem to know just when
I need it most.
Recently, I came home from work tired and faced with an evening
of cooking dinner, doing laundry, giving baths and performing bedtime rituals.
In short, I was feeling less than joyous.
As I tucked my daughter into bed, I put my head on her stomach out
of sheer exhaustion. Suddenly she began to giggle. You know the sound—that high-pitched
kid giggle that sends a warm sensation throughout your body. The next thing
I knew, I was giggling. The more she laughed, the more I laughed. When we finally
composed ourselves, she grabbed my face in her little hands and said, “I like
when we do that, Mommy.”
“I do, too,” I replied. “Can you help Mommy do it more often?”
Laugh, for the Health of It
The many health benefits of laughter are well documented, but
often taking the time to have fun gets labeled as a luxury or, even worse, a
waste of valuable time. The fact is, though, according to more and more research,
laughter can be just what the doctor ordered.
Research has shown that laughter strengthens our immune system,
reduces stress and anxiety and even gives us a workout by exercising the heart,
lungs and diaphragm. Socially, laughter can break down barriers and make it
easier to meet and communicate with people.
Throughout the world, organizations such as The
Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (www.aath.org)
are working to promote the need for research and application
of the benefits of humor and laughter in our lives.
Hopefully, you’re already convinced of the need for joy in your
life. Here are some ideas to help prompt you on your way to a more joyful and
being joyful and having fun a priority in your life. Read the comics, share
a joke, watch your favorite funny movie, smile at someone, laugh at something
silly your kids or grandkids did, or do something silly yourself.
a family laugh night. Rent funny movies to watch together, such as Babe,
Shrek or Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. After the kids have gone to
bed, watch a comedy geared more toward adults.
Give yourself a daily reminder to laugh and have fun. Post cartoons
or funny quotes around your home and office.
everyone to come to dinner one evening prepared to share a favorite joke or
funny story. Make sure to emphasize that the jokes and stories should be clean
and not hurtful to anyone.
a “Things That Make Me Laugh” file. Collect cartoons, articles, jokes—anything
that makes you laugh. Write down funny things your kids/grandkids have said.
When you need a quick burst of joy, grab the file and read through a couple
of the items.
yourself with things that make you happy or laugh, such as toys, stuffed animals
or pictures. My home and office are filled with toys, photos of my husband and
kids being silly and other gadgets that help to remind me at a glance not to
take things so seriously and to always make time to have fun.
Sign your family up for a subscription to The Joyful Noiseletter,
published by the Fellowship of Merry Christians. The newsletter
provides cartoons, jokes, one-liners, quotable quotes, uplifting
anecdotes and articles, and joyful Scriptural references.
For subscription information, visit www.joyfulnoiseletter.
to find pictures of Jesus laughing, either in books or on the Internet. If you
can’t find any, draw your own.
Next Month: A Rosary Refresher