We won’t always have experiences that promote joy and happiness, for we know that life has a way of challenging us, but overall are we even taking the time to count our blessings and acknowledge the good we have already received?
I came across this quotation that seemed to sum up the concept of smiling and laughter being healthy:
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”
~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.1
Some of the benefits of laughing include muscle relaxation, stress reduction, aids in dissolving conflicts, decreases fear in the mind, and much more.2
If we look at faces throughout the day and even at our own at times, smiling would certainly lift our otherwise sullen expressions.
After many arduous experiences and overcoming grief, I knew it was time for a mental facelift so I decided to practice keeping a smile on my face throughout the day and as I would fall to sleep at night. This was a very difficult task especially right before turning in for the night, and I knew I needed prayerful support to pull this off. I dug into the scriptures and found many citations on the importance of keeping hold of joy in one’s life.
In the book of Proverbs 17:22, it is written, “22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (KJV). That explained why I wasn’t so flexible and my knees hurt!
I then found this verse in John 16:22, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (ESV). I had been counting all of my losses and had forgotten what to look forward to. I smiled when I was reminded that my joy in Christ is secure. Then what really sealed this for me was when I read this citation in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, “Rejoice always” (ESV).
As I continued my research, I discovered an article about Norman Cousins and how he surpassed the prognosis from his doctor that he would not live longer than a few months after being diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rare disease of the connective tissues. Mr. Cousins turned to laughter as one of his treatments and lived 26 years more after his diagnosis.3
According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, “Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness. It aims to use the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort.”4
With all the information that I had gathered, I knew it was time for me to make a change.
I kept praying for more joy and to keep a positive attitude. I had reminder notes around to smile and began putting smiley faces on everything that required my signature. I used smiley emoji faces on emails, Skype, and text messages and then compiled a list of my favorite comedies that I purchased of which I frequently watched.
When I felt my face begin to droop, I immediately turned that frown upside down even if I didn’t feel like it. When I stirred during the night, I would remind myself that I’d better be smiling.
After months of continuous practice, I saw a great improvement in myself. My eyes were brighter, my skin was firmer, and my attitude was changing for the better. And people noticed; in fact, one friend of mine asked me if I was getting Botox injections!
Frowns, scowls, under-eye bags, red eyes, even wrinkles, do not characterize a happy person, but choosing to be happy rather than complaining and murmuring is a great way to bring light to one’s face and turn that frown around. In his lecture, Mr. Reike said that sickness is a “frown on your body” and with all the health issues that people face today maybe by adding dosages of laughter and keeping a smile on your face, the prognosis will improve as it did with Mr. Cousins.
There are reasons we won’t always smile and laugh, but there are also many reasons why we should. And with the scientific evidence pointing to how laughter is beneficial to good health, then why not try it out for yourself, and turn that frown into a smile?
–E. E. Cummings said, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
1“Laughter Is the Best Medicine: The Health Benefits of ...” Accessed October 20, 2016. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm
3 “Norman Cousins: The Man Who Laughed In The Face of Death.” Accessed October 20, 2016. https://healdove.com/alternative-medicine/normancousins
4 “Laughter Therapy: Cancer Treatment Centers of America.” Accessed October 20, 2016. http://www.cancercenter.com/treatments/laughter-therapy/