Have you ever felt so down that you didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything? You were in a serious funk, yet somehow you managed to gather enough strength to lift the remote and turn on a favorite comedy film or sitcom. I can tell you what probably happened next. Before you knew it, not only were you laughing, but you had also forgotten all about whatever it was that was making you feel down in the first place.
That wasn’t denial or escape. You simply made a conscious choice to do something to lift yourself out of the doldrums and change your attitude. We have a choice: We can wallow in our misery, or we can make a concerted effort to do something to change our outlook.
Getting our daily dose of laughter is one of those efforts. It doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription, no copayment is involved, it’s available to us 24/7, and it’s calorie-free. Sound too good to be true?
The Bible says it isn’t. Plenty of Scripture addresses the benefits of joy and laughter. The Bible says it’s a medicine (Proverbs 17:22). It says the happy heart has a continual feast (Proverbs 15:15), and it promises that even though we may weep now, we will one day laugh again. (Luke 6:21).
This concept of changing our attitudes is covered in Philippians, where it speaks about how we should focus on all those “whatsoevers” (Philippians 4:8). When we choose to think on whatsoever things are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy instead of dwelling on whatsoever things are untrue—fear, negative voices in our lives, annoying, worrisome, hopeless, or discouraging—we are choosing God’s fool-proof prescription for changing our outlook and our future.
But how many times throughout our day and even in our prayers have we started out positive and hopeful only to get pulled back into all the stresses and messes of life? Sometimes we don’t even realize it is happening. We’re praying and praising, but before we know it, we’re whining, grumbling, or tattling on this person or that person, as if God isn’t already fully aware of what is going on in a certain situation—like he’s not omniscient.
This doesn’t mean that God is uninterested in our complaints. He is, especially when life is unfair. But he doesn’t want us focusing on a negative situation so much that we lose sight of our own destiny. He wants us to fulfill His plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants us to know that even though life has its disappointments and hurts, there’s still plenty of good, truth, and love out there. Giving our attention to the latter is going to serve us better in the long term.
So, in spite of the ups and downs of life, or perhaps even because of them, the Bible tells us to get our daily dose of joy. Laughter-induced endorphins are beneficial to our health much like a regular exercise program. (For the record, I hate to exercise. But even I will still try to do at least twenty jumping jacks a day. Okay, only half of that. … I just clap.)
And that’s precisely why laughter is my favorite exercise program. It doesn’t require breaking a sweat, and there’s hardly any risk of injury. Instead of looking around for a highly paid personal trainer, I simply watch more comedies on television, or read the comics, or hang out with funny people.
If we can teach ourselves to smile instead of scowl, belly laugh instead of bellyache, and giggle instead of grumble, we’ll be better off for it. After all, God created us with the ability to laugh. It’s not something we have to wait to use either. Smiling and giggling are two of the first things a baby learns to do, even before crawling and walking.
So the next time you’re in the doldrums, wondering how you can lift yourself out of them, remember that a better outlook and a more enjoyable life is often just a few hearty laughs away.
Job 8:21, "He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."