Laughter Can Be Good Medicine
By Rev. Alan Mead
The other day, on a long drive home from vacation, my attention focused when I heard someone on the radio talking about the healing power of laughter. As I listened I thought of a book I had read long ago that touted laughter as a healing force, and reflected how we could all use a little more of it today. Of course an obvious question is, how can we laugh when around our world today we have such tragedy, disaster and inhumanity as walls are built to protect the have’s and fires rage in tinder dry areas struggling through long periods of drought and long streams of refugees fleeing conflict are being turned away? Or how can I laugh if I have a serious illness?
Although I read the book many years ago bits and pieces came to mind. The book highlighted the power of developing laughter in our lives, not so much as an antidote to problems; but as something that releases healing power within us. The book, written by Norman Cousins while himself living with severe heart disease, was about disease and how individually, laughter releases something within us that helps us overcome disease, not in place of medicine but, along side of the best medical practice available.
Cousins himself, with severe heart disease, ended up living 10 years beyond expectancy. As I remember Cousin’s book, he didn’t advocate laughing at something negative; but laughing anyway. I can’t help thinking of the scripture that bids us to rejoice always and to give thanks for all things. Laughing, rejoicing, giving thanks are all developed deep within our personalities, and over time, and with practice.
So as we laugh, give thanks and rejoice, I hope we will also pray for all those refugees attempting to enter into Europe and to a life that has the potential to be free from the violence of war. I ask our to prayers for the hardness of heart that seems to be growing right alongside of the tremendous need.