Perhaps the simplest remedy for an ailment is right under your nose: A good laugh. ”
Safer than any big pharma pill-of-the-moment and free of harmful side effects, laughter is one of the easiest things you can do to promote healing and well-being,” writes Dr. Frank Lipman in his recent HuffPost blog Comic Relief: The Healing Power of Laughter. He goes on to say that in his 20-year medical practice patients who tended to laugh a lot also tended to heal “better and faster than those who didn’t.”
Lipman lists 12 health-enhancing physiological benefits of a good belly laugh a day. Among them: laughter relieves stress, boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins, reduces inflammation, alters mood, relieves tension. A refreshing list over the typical rundown of ill side-effects that accompany drug advertisements. Who wouldn’t like this remedy?
Another study concludes that laughter ups pain tolerance. For one experiment a group of people watched a boring video, while another group watched comedies. Those who had the fun of laughing then had the fun of tolerating 10% more pain than their counter-participants who slogged through the boring video.
You may be the kind of person who easily laughs or sees the humor in the day’s events. If so, this “medicine” won’t be hard to swallow. On the other hand, what if you’re afraid you don’t laugh enough and that could have a detrimental effect on your health? What then?
The feeling you get from a hearty laugh is something anyone would want to bottle for constant consumption.
Maybe that’s not too far-fetched…
I’ve found that looking at the spiritual side of joy reveals some interesting answers to this question of how to feel joy consistently.
One place you might find it is in church. Interestingly, a 2012 Pew Research study on happiness found that churchgoers are happier than those attending less often. Another study found that people who go to church tend to experience positive emotions that “include smiling and laughter, enjoyment, happiness, and learning or doing something interesting.”
Is it the mosque, the temple, the steeple–even the people? Perhaps on the surface these things matter, but the benefit of connecting to church runs deeper than the bricks and mortar. When you feel close to your Creator–to good and all that entails–it’s hard to wipe the smile off of your face because of the inner joy you feel. And that means church (more than a building) is a healing place to be.
“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love” wrote Mary Baker Eddy. When you’re smiling–recognizing all the good (Truth and Love) in your life–the stuff that isn’t so good just isn’t there anymore. Take it from Job, who had every reason to be unhappy, but was reassured by the promise:
“He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy” (Job 8:21).