The children were lined up for lunch in the cafeteria of a Christian school. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The teacher made a note, and posted it on the apple tray, “Take only one. God is watching.” Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. One child whispered to another, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”
It is said that laughter is the best medicine. Even the Bible tells us this in Proverbs 17:22, which states, “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Study after study about laughter now has the medical establishment agreeing with this statement. Dr. Caroline Leaf, who holds her Ph. D. in Communication Pathology, has focused on researching the cognitive neuro-scientific aspects of the brain as well as unlocking its untapped potential. On her website, Drleaf.com, she discusses how 87 – 95% of the illnesses that hinder us today can be directly linked to our thought life. Each person has approximately 30,000 thoughts a day – it is no wonder why someone who leans toward an uncontrolled and unhealthy thought life may very well be making themself sick!
The medical community has known for some time that unhealthy and negative thoughts generate hormonal, physical and chemical responses in the body. For example, fear has the ability to trigger more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses in our body, while also activating more than 30 different hormones, according to Leaf. Thoughts are so powerful that they even have the ability to either create dendritic growth and neural activity, or to cause the dendrites to die off, creating a loss of information and memories. (Dendrites are any of the short branched threadlike extensions of a nerve cell, which conduct impulses towards the cell body).
Let’s take a look at that further. When someone has healthy and positive thoughts, the brain releases chemicals that make them more alert and help that person build memory and concentration. When memory building starts, nerve cells can effectively grow healthy dendrites. Negative thoughts, however, release harmful chemicals within the body and can cause the dendrites to become sparse. Philippians 4:8 says,” Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” By thinking on the good and not allowing our self to indulge in negative thinking, we create the atmosphere to generate new dendrites and neurons and we also save precious time to think about more healthy thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 reminds us to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. This is a great verse to meditate on when negative things or people in our life get us to the point where our thoughts turn to a dark, negative place.
Did you hear the joke about the dying preacher? He summoned two of his congregants, a lawyer and an I.R.S. agent, to his bedside. Each stood on his left and right side and the preacher took their hand. Puzzled, the lawyer asked the preacher why of all people he wanted them at his bedside. With his last ounce of strength the preacher replied, “Jesus died between two thieves and I want to do the same.”
Studies have shown that humor creates healthy physical changes in the body such as: boosting your energy level, reducing stress and pain and relaxing the body to a peaceful state. According to Helpguide.org, laughter releases endorphins that promote a sense of well-being, relaxes muscles and eases anxiety, fear, anger and sadness. It also generates healthy immune cells and antibodies that help to fight disease.
Lead Researcher, Dr. Michael Miller, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, did a study that showed for the first time how laughter and humor protects the heart by enhancing the proper functions of the heart and how it is linked to the healthy function of blood vessels. This and other studies have indicated that laughing protects the heart against stress that impairs the endothelium of the blood vessels that causes fat and cholesterol build-up which leads to heart attacks. Studies have also shown that people with heart disease generally laugh less and display more hostility.
According to the CDC, Heart Disease is the number one killer in the United States (with an American having a coronary event every 25 seconds!) and researchers agree that laughter should be added to the list of preventive care. “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,” adds Paul E. McGhee, Ph. D. (See Helpguide.org)
An elderly man was visiting his doctor for a check-up. He asked the doctor if he could recommend a specialist for his wife who was suffering from severe hearing loss. The doctor gave him the name of a specialist and told the man to test his wife when he got home by asking her a question when her back was turned to him. The doctor told the man to keep doing it until he got an answer and this would determine the severity of the hearing loss. That afternoon, the man saw his wife preparing dinner while her back was to him. The man asked his wife, “What’s for dinner?” His wife did not respond, so he asked again. Again the wife did not answer him. The man kept asking the wife the same question until finally the wife spun around and said, “For the fifth time, fried chicken!!”
Laughter is infectious and besides being beneficial to our health it is also a great bonding device in our relationships. Our laughter creates a domino effect and attracts other people to us. It is free and easy to use. It is fun to laugh together with our loved ones and it creates wonderful memories. Everyone would benefit by incorporating more laughter into daily life. Try watching comedies, reading funny books, jokes and cartoons, visit comedy clubs and try to take yourself less seriously. Enjoy fun activities with adults, children and pets. Learn to laugh at yourself and situations that would otherwise stress you out. Be less critical of yourself and others; lighten-up and enjoy life. Smiling is a precursor to laughing so try to smile more. Try to be friendlier, even with grumpy people. They may actually surprise you and smile back or laugh! Keep it clean, funny and fun. Life is too short; laughter will certainly put a spring back in your step and help keep things in perspective.
For more information on Dr. Caroline Leaf and research on laughter, please visit the following websites: www.drleaf.com; www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm ; www.cdc.gov; and www.umm.edu/features/laughter.htm.
A man sees a sign in front of a house that says: “Talking dog for sale.” He inquires of the owner who takes him in the backyard to see the dog. “You talk?” he asks. The dog replies, “Yes, I discovered this gift pretty young and the government hired me to spy on world leaders because they would never suspect that a dog would be eavesdropping on them. For eight years I was one of their most valuable spies, but I was getting older and wanted to settle down. So I signed up for an undercover security job at the airport. I snooped around suspicious characters and uncovered some incredible dealings there and I was awarded quite a few medals. I’m retired now with a wife and family.” The man was amazed by this talking dog and asks the owner how much he wants for him. The owner says, “Ten dollars.” The man replies, “This dog is amazing! Why are you selling him so cheap?” The owner replies, “He’s such a liar. He didn’t do any of that stuff.
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