I call myself a ‘humortarian’ because I love to laugh, I enjoy making people laugh, and I love the sound of laughter. Not too long ago, I got to wondering why I never saw any pictures of Jesus laughing. I searched on the Internet and found a variety of pictures showing Him laughing. I loved it! Personally, I believe that Jesus had a great sense of humor; He loved to laugh and make others laugh, and I wouldn’t be surprised if He were a real practical joker. He also loved children and I can just see Him running around chasing them while enjoying the sounds of their squeals of delight.
There is even a Buddha who was called the “Laughing Buddha.” He was based on an eccentric Chinese Monk who lived over 1,000 years ago and was also known as the ‘Loving or Friendly One.’ Laughter is so important to the Jews that they made it into a holiday called “Purim” or “Day of Laughter.”
Laughter is very healing and has all kinds of wonderful health benefits including helping to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and help reduce stress hormones, while also giving a person a wonderful sense of well-being. Some of you may have heard the story of Norman Cousins, who was a writer, optimist, philanthropist, and promoted holistic healing. He was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and given a death sentence, so rather than give up, and with his doctor’s approval, he prescribed himself with mega-doses of vitamin C and lots of laughter by watching funny TV shows and comedians. Consequently, he was able to regain his health and went back to work. (You can read his story in his book “Anatomy of an Illness.”) Of course, there were also other variables including a very positive mental attitude and outlook. Cousins stated, “"I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep." Will it work for everyone? I don’t know; but it can’t hurt.
Laughter is contagious, and having a good belly laugh works the diaphragm, and gives the heart and lungs a good workout. Laughter Yoga has become popular where people will get together and just laugh. In Berlin, one such group got on a train for a get-together, and while on the train, one person pretended she was on a cell phone and started to laugh hysterically. Next thing they knew just about everyone on the train was laughing right along with her. Their intent was just to get people laughing, and their video has gotten several million hits thus far.
We can find humor in almost anything, anywhere, and at any time. I never pass up a chance to make someone laugh if I can. For instance, one day at Walmart as I was checking out, I saw a group of people at the front of the store who were in line taking turns hugging an elder gentleman. When I got to the front of the store, the last person was getting ready to hug the man, so I got in line and when she was done, I took my turn in giving the man a big, friendly hug. The look on everyone’s faces was priceless, and fortunately, they all laughed.
Even my church does not escape my sense of humor. But in many churches, for some reason, we feel we have to be so serious when it comes to God and religion. French writer Voltaire said, “God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.” Spiritual teacher Osho says, “To me, to laugh wholeheartedly is the greatest celebration that can happen to a man -- to laugh wholeheartedly, to become the laughter. The idea has gone very deep in the human mind that religious people have to be serious and sad, with long faces. Laughter is one of the most sacred phenomenon on the earth. A good laugh is a tonic, it is very vital for one's well-being.”
Some studies have said that children laugh approximately 300-400 times a day compared to an adult who laughs approximately 15 times a day. Why do we lose that ability to laugh so much? Maybe we just take life and ourselves way too seriously.
I really believe that God is in the laughter, and that when we laugh, He laughs right along with us. Job 8:21 says, “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting,” and Matthew 5:12 says, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad.” So, go ahead. ‘Play’ God’s music and laugh to your heart’s content. What a great way to be a part of God’s orchestra!
(Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen February 2, 2012.)