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By Susan Hines-Brigger

The Importance of Having Fun

Q U I C K S C A N

Taking a Cue From Kids
Laugh, for the Health of It
For Teens: April Fools' Day
For Kids: Witnessing New Life

 

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 laughter-filled life:

• Make 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.

• Have 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.

• Ask 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.

• Keep 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.

• Surround 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. com.

• Try 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

 

 

For Teens: April Fools' Day

On the first of this month, people around the world will try to trick one another by performing practical jokes—ranging from small to elaborate—in honor of April Fools' Day.

No one knows for sure the exact origins of April Fools' Day, but one story I found most often cited dates back to the time of the Julian calendar when the beginning of the new year was celebrated on April 1. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered the Gregorian calendar to replace the Julian calendar, and the first day of the new year changed to January 1. Many people either refused to acknowledge this change or were not aware of it and continued celebrating the new year on April 1. These people were called fools and were the subject of tricks and practical jokes.

In the spirit of April Fools' Day, play a good-natured practical joke on a friend or family member. Remember, though, that the best joke is one that makes everyone laugh, including the person on the receiving end.

For Kids: Knock, Knock. Who's There?

Knock, knock. Who's there? Boo. Boo who? Don't cry. It's only a joke.

Do you like telling jokes? Share some of your favorites with friends and family, and ask them to share their favorites with you. If you don't know any jokes, check out a joke book from your local library.

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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