You’ll never live life to the fullest if you can’t laugh. In fact, laughter is as much of a spiritual thing as any other element of faith. Holocaust survivor and founder of Logotherapy Viktor Frankel said, “Humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, if only for a few seconds.”
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Laughter is literally like a natural medicine that heals our soul. God designed us to biologically respond to joy. When we smile and laugh the brain releases dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness. It also has been proven to boost immune systems as well as lower blood pressure and increases oxygen intake. We are hard wired with an internal happiness mechanism that is triggered by a joyful attitude. Numerous studies have discovered that happy people live much healthier lives. It makes sense that as followers of Christ, we should have the most reasons to laugh and experience joy.
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
We must be intentional about laughter and make it part of our everyday experience. Here are some tips to keep yourself full of joy.
1) Laugh At Your Busyness
Too often we go without laughter when life is busy and stressful. Before long, we realized we haven’t LOL’d (laughed out loud for those of you non-texters). This not only has physically repercussions but spiritual ones as well. We have to make sure we make opportunity for laughter in our lives. All work plus no play equals spiritual disarray. Take time to get away and laugh. Take time to do things that will refill your energy tank. It’s much harder to serve and pour out ourselves if we are crushed by life’s challenges. The longer we go without taking a laugh break the more burned out we get burned out. I like how Will Rogers said, “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” Literally getting away just to laugh and enjoy life can do wonders to your spiritual well-being. I have heard it said that some people don’t just worry occasionally, they worry recreationally. If we can learn to live simpler, we can learn to live happier. It’s when we make things harder than they need to be that life becomes harder than it was meant to be. Don’t be so busy that you forget to laugh.
2) Laugh At Yourself
You are going to mess up. That’s right, you are going to do some not-so-smart things in life. If you take yourself too serious at all times, you are going to become a bitter person. You have to learn to laugh at your mistakes and faults. I’m not making light of our mistakes, just that we need to understand we can’t change the past and there’s no need to be destroyed because of it. If you can’t find humor in your shortcomings, you won’t find humor in other people’s shortcomings. And that makes for a very miserable life, because you will let yourself down, and other’s will let you down. Those who can gracefully recover from mistakes will proceed into success. If you are always trying avoid failures and mistakes you are going to play it too safe. Part of stepping out in faith is having the courage to fail. If you are afraid of failure you are going to be fearful of faith. God’s grace is bigger than your biggest failures. Don’t make His grace harder than it needs to be. When we beat ourselves up over our mistakes is when we open the door to discouragement. And discouragement literally “disses” our courage to move forward.
3) Laugh At Your Circumstances
Staying grateful and appreciative is one of the greatest ways to keep yourself in line. When we let our attitude be one of thanksgiving, we tend to be much happier. It is when we feel we deserve something that we are in danger of being ungrateful. Ungratefulness turns into selfishness, and selfishness turns into pride. Pride keeps us from our fullest potential. Having an attitude of gratitude ensures we are on the road to success. Circumstances will constantly be changing over time. If we don’t keep ourselves humble in the midst of the changing times we will be subject to the storms of life. We can’t control what we go through, but we can control how we go through it. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is their response to circumstances. American Novelist Raymond Chandler said, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
Proverbs 15:13 (NIV)
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” Every day, your mind is a battlefield where spiritual warfare takes place. If we give up and surrender to the fight, we become a victim to our worst thoughts. We must remain steadfast with our thinking and be on guard at all times. If we continue to think faith-filled thoughts despite our feelings, the day will come when we will feel like it. We have to develop faith-filled habits day by day. Do not be led by your feelings, but lead your feelings by being faithful to God. Keep a joyful laughter in the midst of your challenges and you’ll become stronger from it.