Seriously? I’m not a robot. Laughing seems phony when I am sad, hurt, or disappointed. I can’t imagine that there really are reasons to laugh when you don’t feel like it. It just goes against everything sensible.
If this is how you feel, read on. You might just change your mind.
Laughing seems phony when I am sad, hurt, or disappointed
You are absolutely correct. When we are sad, hurt, or disappointed, laughing goes against everything we are feeling inside. Laughing feels like we are deceiving ourselves and everyone around us.
Before we go any further down that thought path, did you know that our bodies do not know the difference between real laughter and forced laughter? Our minds do, but our bodies do not. For this reason, laughter therapy is being used more and more to help people get out of the doldrums of physical and emotional pain. Laugher becomes a type of medicine. There truly are reasons to laugh when you don’t feel like it.
Why is it important to laugh?
Most children do not experience the stress levels that adults do. Obviously, they don’t have near the responsibilities either. However, there is something unique to children that gets lost as we grow up. Children laugh hundreds of times a day whereas adults less than 30 times a day. (1, 2)
We can learn from children and their innocent approach to life. In fact, Jesus encouraged his followers to be more like children in their trust in what he was teaching them. Part of that childlike innocence is the ability to laugh shortly after they have been hurt. They don’t feel phony about it. They likewise have not learned all of our “grown-up” sophistication.
“Children live in their hearts and as adults, we live in our heads.” (3)
What does the Bible say about laughter?
It is therapeutic
“A joyful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)
In the early 1800’s, Lord Byron knew this truth because he has been quoted as saying, “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”
In the 21st century, I love the way science can’t help but confirm that God’s word is indeed the truth. Laughter therapy is now a legitimate field of medicine. (4)
It is often appropriate
“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
Obviously, there are inappropriate times to laugh. You wouldn’t burst out in laughter at a funeral, unless, of course, the deceased was a comedian at heart. That was the case at my mother’s funeral. She kept in her Bible various cartoons and other funny anecdotes to share with her friends. We read some of them in her memory.
It is God’s gift to believers
“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 16:11)
God’s people have more reason than any to laugh, sing, and dance. We have the Creator of the universe promising us fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
It must be used to help, not hurt
Scripture also has a caution. “Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do.” (1 Corinthians 16:14) “Encourage one another and build up one another.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Some things are not funny. We should never laugh at the expense of others.
7 reasons to laugh when you don’t feel like it
“When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body.” (5)
Laughter is good for your body, mind, and spirit. Laughter brings joy to your life even when life isn’t joyful. Here is why.
- Laughter stimulates your lungs, heart, and muscles. It brings oxygen-rich air into your body.
- Laughter releases “happy hormones” into your bloodstream, improving your mood.
- Laughter relieves stress and muscular tension. “The effects of mirthful laughter can last up to 24 hours.” (6)
- “Laughter has the same benefits of a cardio workout. It gets your heart pumping and burns the same amount of calories as walking.” (4) “It is a recognized form of low-impact cardiovascular exercise.” (5)
- Laughter strengthens your immune system and reduces stress hormones in your body.
- Laughter makes it easier to cope with difficult situations.
- Laughter makes us more pleasant to be around and therefore strengthens relationships.
As you can see, science has proven there are at least 7 reasons to laugh when you don’t feel like it. There probably are more.
Resources to give you reasons to laugh when you don’t feel like it
I have an 85-year-old friend who is quite the humorist. She posts something corny (but clean) almost every day on her Facebook page. I have come to expect and enjoy so many of them. If you enjoy puns or play on words, you can visit her @Alice Austin- with the profile photo below. Or, start the tradition on your own Facebook page. Others will thank you for it.
Read or tell humorous stories. My grandchildren have read several books in the series, “Diary Of A Whimpy Kid”, by Jeff Kinney. While you won’t find yourself rolling on the floor laughing, these books tend to have you chuckling about the many dilemmas that come up.
Watch old episodes of “I love Lucy”, “Cheers”, and “Friends”. If you can’t find them free on Netflix, Hulu etc, some libraries have them for loan.
Keep a humor journal with anything that caused you to laugh during the day. This journal becomes a great resource to go back to.
Do something crazy. One time when a friend and I were in a park, we saw an abandoned shopping cart. I climbed in and my friend pushed me around on the sidewalks. People looked at us like we were crazy, but it gave us a good laugh.
Try to quickly say tongue twisters. This is especially fun with other people. In fact, the more people the better. Even during a pandemic, this can be done in groups using facetime, or zoom.
Go to the greeting card section of stores and look through the offerings there. When I was a teenager, I was embarrassed when my mom would stand there laughing out loud about what she was reading. Now I don’t care. I am the one laughing.
Type into Google, “free resources for laughter” or humor. There are a plethora of suggestions.
Libraries are a great source of books with puns, jokes, stories and much more.
Resources for purchase
Over the years, Readers Digest has included a monthly section called “Laughter is the best medicine.” The following book is a collection of their best humor.
Phil Callaway is a Christian humorist. He hosts a daily, 5-minute radio program called Laugh Again which airs across North America, The United Kingdom, and Africa. You can also listen to it online. He is the author of over 20 books. In his newest collection of short stories, he brings a dose of laughter and levity to life’s toughest moments.
The next book is being used with senior citizens who suffer from depression and boredom. According to one of the top reviews, ” I can wholeheartedly say that this book has some that will make you laugh till you cry.”
In the 1950s and 1960s, Art Linkletter had a national television program called House Party. “The show’s best-remembered segment was ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things’, in which Linkletter interviewed schoolchildren between the ages of five and ten.” (Wikipedia). Clips from those segments can be purchased on DVD or in book form.
The books and DVDs listed here only scratch the surface of good, clean humor that is available.
Laughter is a precious gift from God. We should take full advantage of it whenever we can and when it is appropriate. It is God’s original medicine for sad, hurt, and disappointed hearts. Will you accept His gift? While it won’t replace a relationship with Jesus, it certainly makes life more joyful.
Another gift for you
This following Scripture card is a reminder that laughter is good for what ails us. It is a reminder that we have reasons to laugh even when we don’t feel like it. Simply click on the image to download. NO EMAIL REQUIRED.
- (1) https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine
- (2) https://stopdoingnothing.com/healthy-living/the-five-most-important-reasons-to-laugh/
- (3) https://globallymealliance.org/when-nothings-funny-even-simulated-laughter-can-be-good-medicine/
- (4,8) https://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/laughter-important/
- (5) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456
- (6,7) https://theheartfoundation.org/2019/06/24/5-reasons-you-should-laugh-everyday/