“Laughter is the sound of joy,” Senior Pastor of Enterprise First United Methodist Church Tonya Elmore said during the Healthy Woman luncheon on Thursday, July 11. “It is happiness made visible and made audible. Laugh, cry, smile, pause and repeat, day in and day out. You’ll be happier and you’ll be healthier for it.”
Elmore shared the importance of joy and laughter to a person’s overall spiritual and physical health during the luncheon held at EFUMC.
“Jesus full of joy has always encouraged me… and helped me to try to keep life in perspective,” she said. “There is no doubt whatsoever that the world we live in today is full of a lot of negativity.
“When I think of all of that, all of that going on around us, all that going on in the world, I think of Jesus and all that he went through on behalf of each and every one of us. Think of it, all the belittling, the plotting against him, the false allegations always coming his way, his motives continually being questioned, his disciples repeatedly questioning him and appearing not to understand much of anything that he was trying to teach them. Yet, he was patient, he was kind, he was loving, and I imagine that he and his disciples laughed a lot together.”
Elmore said the Bible has many references to joy and laughter, citing Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 30:5, Ecclesiastes 3:4 and Genesis, where Abraham and Sarah laughed after learning at an old age they would have a son.
“I believe that laughter is indeed a precious gift from God,” she said. “I sincerely believe that God has a great sense of humor. I cling to the fact that the Bible tells us that Heaven is a place that is marked by joy and laughter.
“Laughter is not only a gift from God that we’re meant to enjoy, but laughter is also healthy for us.”
She cited research studies and articles that show just how laughing can have positive benefits to a person’s physical health.
“Psychology Today reports that toddlers laugh over 100 times a day,” she said, stating the average 40 year old laughs four times a day. “We need to lighten up, friends. We need to realize that laughing is beneficial to us in so many ways not only spiritually, but physically and emotionally as well. By seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your mental and emotional health, you can strengthen your relationships, you can find greater happiness and it’s even reported that you can add a little bit of time to your life.”
Elmore said laughing is “like internal jogging” and helps an individual relax and relieve stress for up to 45 minutes.
“Laugh,” she said. “Find something to laugh about and see how much better you feel.”
She shared that laughter can increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, release endorphins and temporarily relieve pain. She also said laughter helps blood vessels, and laughing for about “10-20 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories.”
“Laughter can help you be more positive and optimistic in the face of all kinds of difficult situations and disappointments,” Elmore said. “It can give you strength and courage and hope.”
She also offered advice on how to bring joy and laughter in a person’s life. These steps include smiling more, learning to count life’s blessings, be willing to laugh at one’s self, staying lighthearted and finding one’s inner child.
“Make it a habit, like breathing or eating or sleeping or even exercising, to laugh as much as possible each and every day,” Elmore said. “Do something each day that makes you laugh out loud.”