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Laughter is the best medicine

We seem to be drawn to people who make us laugh, whether it be a friend, relative, spouse, a pastor, an author or other writer, or a celebrity. We want to be amused. We want something to be uplifting and to make us smile and laugh, for laughter gives our hearts a lift.

There were two people in my life who could laugh like no other I have known. One of them was my mother. She loved to laugh, and she would get so tickled at something us kids would do, that she’d be doubled up in laughter. We loved to see that. She would laugh at the dumbest things, and yet it was sort of a trademark of hers. The other person was my friend, Jina, who passed away this year. She had one of those laughs that was loud and high-pitched, but not irritating. This was her trademark, too, and at her memorial service, people loved to talk about “Jina’s laugh.”

People often think it is inappropriate to laugh during a time of grief or sadness. Not so. It is important for your heart to be glad and to be lifted, especially during this time. It is also good to find laughter in times of stress and uncertainty. When we feel worried about something, laughter doesn’t always come naturally, but in times of stress and times of sickness, we desperately need something that makes us laugh.

There was an editor named Norman Cousins who was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease in 1964, which the doctors said would take his life within a few months. The disease was caused by stress, and so Mr. Cousins decided to introduce mass doses of humor into his life, watching hours and hours of Three Stooges movies. This “medicine” improved his condition so much that he continued to live and was cured. For more information on this, you may search his name on the Internet. His book is entitled “Norman Cousins Anatomy of An Illness.”

Many years ago I was in the hospital for surgery. It required an incision in my abdomen. Now, anyone who has ever had abdominal surgery knows that any movement requires the use of those abdominal muscles. Lifting your eyebrow? Somehow, those abdominal muscles get involved. Ouch!

I was in my thirties at the time of this surgery, and after the operation, I shared a room with a 65-year-old woman who had just had a hysterectomy. We quickly became friends and talked about where we were feeling our pains, and about our after-operation issues. I won’t get really graphic at this time, but there were some issues we shared that we would probably not share with others in normal conversations.

These chats made us both laugh hysterically, which was extremely painful, but we could not help it. The nurses could hear us laughing all the way to the nurses’ station. One nurse came into our room and wondered what all the laughing was about. She said, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Well, that did not seem true at the time, but the few days I spent with that new friend was priceless to me, and I really do believe the laughter helped the healing process for both of us.

So, in all areas of your life, whether it be at work, at home, at church, in your clubs and societies, at parties, or anywhere you may be, make sure you have laughter in your life. Smiles are great. Laughter is better. It really is the best medicine.

• • •

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

— Proverbs 17:22 “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

— Luke 6:21

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