Laughter: A Better Way to Respond in These Negative Times

John ThurmanBy John ThurmanFebruary 3, 20239 Minutes

A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 15:13 ESV).

Are People Grumpier?

Is it just me, or are people grumpier these days? I was at Costco the other day, and it looked like almost everybody had been weaned on a pickle. I think they are, with daily doses of negative news from whatever your favorite news source and all the “gloom and doomers” who share their brand of pessimistic poison. Add to this all the threats of Armageddon, and what do you get? So many grumpy, hopeless-sounding people are waiting for the sky to fall.

As a person of faith, I try not to get distracted by all the negative buzz because I don’t know what the future hold, but I do know who holds the future, and I take comfort in that truth.

Negative news is not a new phenomenon. It’s been around since the beginning of time. But it has become more common in recent years because of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. And it’s not just the negative news, but also our outlook on life in general. The number of pessimistic people has increased dramatically recently, especially among American adults. The percentage of people who think the economy will worsen has risen from 10% to 40%. Fewer than one in five (20%) said they were “better off.” while more than twice that number — 42% — said they were “worse off.” Another 36% said they were “about the same.”[i] This pessimism can have a massive impact on our health and mental well-being. It can lead to depression, anger as well as high levels of stress.

So, what can you and I do?

First, I think we must acknowledge we are going through some tough times. Second, if you are a person of faith, exercise it! Third, laugh more!

Laughter is a powerful tool that can have long-term positive effects on your health. It can improve your mood, relieve pain and infuse you with hope. Laughter has the power to enhance your autoimmune system and decrease the risk of heart disease. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, help with depression, lower blood pressure, and increase the production of endorphins which make you happy.

Additional Benefits of Laughter

Here are six things laughter and humor can do to enhance your personal life and your relationships.

1.   It connects you with others. We are hardwired for relationships. To no small degree, your happiness and health depend on your relationship’s quality. Real connections are engaged face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball, not in the glow of the blue-tinted screens. And the laughter helps strengthen the relationship’s bond on several levels.

2.    It can help smooth out differences. Using gentle humor lets, you deal with sensitive subjects, work through disagreements, and gain a fresh perspective on problems.

3.   It strengthens and promotes resilience. A sense of humor is one of the keys to resilience. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in facing adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress–such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

4.    I can increase energy and enhance your ability to relax simultaneously. Joy, humor, and laughter relieve fatigue and relax your body while recharging your batteries and helping you get more done.

5.    Humor has the power to renew and refresh your perspective. Most relationships, life, or job situations are not as bad when viewed through the window of joy and laughter.

6.     Laugher and humor can dramatically increase your productivity. Playfulness and humor release certain brain chemicals that loosen you up energize your thinking and inspire creative problem-solving.

It’s no joke that humor is a great personal asset. It is powerful! It can help you make friends, find a date, and even improve your health. Humor is also a great way to connect with people who might not otherwise be interested in what you have to say.

Here Are Some Ways to Incorporate Humor and Laughter into Your Life

 1)  Insert humor in your day: Start by inserting little moments of humor into your day-to-day life. This could be as simple as telling a funny story or making the person next to you laugh.

2)  Laugh more: Laughter is contagious, so make sure you laugh more often! Watch funny videos on YouTube or spend time with fun people who will make you laugh until it hurts.

3)   Share a laugh: If someone tells a hilarious joke, don’t just laugh – share it too! You never know how many people are out there who would love to hear it too, but they didn’t get the chance because they were sitting alone at lunchtime or waiting for their bus.

4)   People watch: Watching fellow humans can always provide a chuckle.

5)   Eliminate negativity from your life. This includes energy-draining people.

6)   Pet a dog or some other animal.

7)    Doodle!

8)    Dance!

9)    Begin a Gratitude Journal: Make a list of what you are grateful for!

10)  Watch some old sitcoms or funny YouTube videos

Ancient Truth That Encourages a Joyful and Hope-Filled Perspective

  • Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law (ESV).
  • Philippians 4:4 – Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let your joy overflow! (TPT)
  • Romans 15:13 – Now may God, the fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope! (TPT)
  • John 16:24 – Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive that your joy may be full (ESV).
  • Nehemiah 8:10 – Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (ESV).
  • Psalm 16:8-9 – I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety (NLT).