MAKE LAUGHTER A DAILY PRIORITY
Daily life with chronic illness can be extremely stressful, and the unhealthy ways we often deal with that stress can lead to relationship conflicts, anxiety, and even a feeling of hopelessness. From my experience, I know it can also make my fibromyalgia flare. However, it’s only fitting (and Scriptural) that we as believers develop and nurture a spirit of hope and optimism about the future. I find that laughter is a key ingredient in helping me hold onto that spirit.
Humor comes more naturally to certain personality types than to others. Some of us must work at it to look on the bright side, make laughter a regular part of our lives, and reap its benefits. Did you know? Doctors now admit what Scripture has said for centuries: laughter is good for your body. It increases blood and oxygen flow and even works your abdominal muscles. Score!
Since I’m naturally more of an Eeyore than a Tigger, I’m grateful for a mate with a sense of humor. Over our 27 years together, laughter has lightened even the heaviest situations and kept us bonded in fun ways.
HOW TO MAKE LAUGHTER A DAILY PRIORITY
Here are a few ways my husband, Carey, and I have found to turn the dial-up on laughter, hope, and positivity in our home:
1) Turn off the news and turn on the laughs
I’m not saying you should never watch or read the news. However, we can now access news headlines 24/7. My advice? Set one time a day (or less) to check what’s happening, and at other moments when you feel the urge to begin “doom-scrolling,” consider partaking in something that makes you chuckle, whether it’s a clean comedy special or a lighthearted movie.
2) Surround yourself with funny, hopeful people
Have you ever had lunch with a friend and felt much worse afterward? Moods – whether they’re good or bad – can spread like wildfire. Be careful with whom you spend time and how much time you spend together. Feeling particularly stressed or down? Why not plan lunch with a bubbly friend, or get coffee with your cousin who radiates joy and tells great jokes?
3) Make time for laughter
You plan out exercise and meals, so why not carve out time in your schedule to laugh? Laughter releases endorphins and creates positive connections. It also just plain feels great! Fold humor into your day by listening to funny podcasts, watching your favorite comedy sketches on Youtube, or reading humorous books and articles. You’ll find it’s harder to be stressed or hopeless when you’re chuckling.
4) Laugh at yourself—and keep a thick skin
I’m very ditzy and clumsy (Maybe it’s my brain chemistry), so I’m always getting into funny situations. I’ve learned to laugh and write about it instead of getting frustrated. I never run out of material, that’s for sure!
Carey says, “At least once every day or two, Dena and I interject some good-natured ribbing about my quirks and her tendency to misspeak (She once said, ‘It’s easy, just like falling off a bicycle!’) into our relationship. Joking around keeps things light-hearted in what can become a day-to-day grind. My only advice would be to do it with a wink and a smile and stay away from sore spots or anything mean-spirited.”
5) Make laughter a family value
Our dinner table is a lively place, full of puns and wordplay. I hope our two sons will continue bringing laughter into their homes when they marry and have kids. They’ve also learned that it’s dangerous to go too far when teasing a family member. It’s all good fun until someone gets hurt – so it’s wise to know when to quit.
We regularly text each other ridiculous memes and tell one another funny stories. Laughing together has provided us with countless priceless memories.
In Proverbs 17:22, we read: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
I’ve found that to be true in my own life and my family’s lives. I pray you’ll experience it in the same way.
Dena loves Jesus, her family, all things literary, coffee, and British television. She’s an author of eleven books and many articles, a professional speaker, and a Bible teacher who’s been married to her hubby Carey for 25 wonderful years (and a couple they don’t talk about). Her passion is sharing words of humor and hope with wounded and weary people, and she enjoys singing on the praise team at the church where her husband is the worship pastor. She spends too much time online or in the fast food drive-through--but she and the Lord are working on it. Connect with her: website, Instagram, or Facebook.
Add a Little Laughter Note Starters
Illness and pain can sometimes shroud the gift of glittering laughter, crushing the embers of our joy. Sometimes all it takes is a quirky pun, a groan-worthy Dad joke, or a play on words to spark a grin. Grab a pen, a Chronic Joy flat card, and share a little bit of #PenToPaper laughter with a friend.