Whenever I must go to a meeting, whether it’s for my church singles leadership team or at work, there’s always someone who understands the gravity of the situation, but adds fun and laughs to the serious tone of an otherwise all-business, droning and dreary, problem-solving tedium.

Yes, I see some of you smiling because you’re thinking of someone like that in your circles. You may have been threatened to be separated due to making each other giggle or even laugh out loud with side remarks, memes, texts, funny faces, and notes. Or maybe it’s you who is the comic relief in the meeting!

I used to have this friend that I was like that with. We’d remark that we sat in the middles of the pews so they couldn’t reach us to haul us out of the service as we commented, snickered, and giggled our way through parts of the service and even the message. (Oh, and that was as an adult!)

Don’t these goofballs make unbearable burdens bearable and fun? Sometimes it’s like living out the movie Life is Beautiful, but with less deplorable conditions, shorter time spans, and better endings.

Those who don’t know me well probably see me as fairly serious. I am serious much of the time. Those who know me well, who have known me well for many years, also know that I have a quick, quirky, laugh-at-what-life-brings-out-of-left-field sense of humor that can pop out anywhere, any time; kind of like ping pong balls popping up from the depths of a pool. Anything is fair game for side remarks, snide remarks, memes, and texts. Thou hast been warned!

By the way, how much dost thou laughest every day?

For those of us who tend to be more serious (that would be me), please know that we have been warned that laughter is necessary for our improved mental and physical health. C. S. Lewis once said that joy was the serious business of heaven. I like that. Joy is often linked with laughter. It’s serious business, this thing called laughter!

There is a body of research called humor research that has been checking out the benefits of laughter and humor, both physically and mentally. Can you believe that there is a humor research lab at the University of Colorado, headed by Dr. Peter McGraw? They even have professional journals and encyclopedias dedicated to humor studies. This is more serious than we thought!

There are some reports which indicate that humor and laughter have serious physical benefits, such as stimulating major organs, relieving your stress response, soothing tension, and improving your immune system as well as your mood (Mayo Clinic 2013). Dr. Norman Cousins credits humor with curing him from a serious medical condition in 1964, which he initially recounted in an article for the New England Journal of Medicine in 1976. He later wrote a book about his experience called Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient (1979). A movie was made of it in 1984.

There are other reports, such as done by Dr. Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at University College London, who have detailed that there is not as much physical benefit to laughter as originally thought. Humor and laughter, according to Dr. Scott—who also does stand-up comedy—is more an indication of the quality and intimacy of one’s social perceptiveness and emotional connections in their respective environments (BBC 2014).

Ssshh—don’t tell anyone—but various studies have even uncovered that <drum roll, please! Act surprised!> a good sense of humor is usually one of the key traits sought by both single men and women as desirable in someone they want to marry, even though perhaps for different reasons (Greengross & Miller, 2011; Match.com research done in 2012; Ware, 2016). Maybe you have used the acronym GSOH in your personal ad for recruiting potential dating partners?

I think it’s because we are—or shall I say, I am—looking for a mate who can help bring levity to an otherwise serious situation in just the right balance. He doesn’t have to be perfect, or a clown, but his having a GSOH will sure help me, and us—if us ever happens—to weather the hard times that each couple will inevitably go through during different phases of our relationship, both during the dating phase and during the marriage.

One of my dates said he really appreciated my humorous reaction to a neighbor’s dog getting so excited to have visitors that he peed through the chain link fence onto my brand new white canvas walking shoes. He told me, unprompted, that my response told him I had a balanced and humorous perspective on life that would help stabilize and strengthen a relationship during those inevitable rocky times couples go through. So good humor (not the ice cream!) can lead to or add to a great sense of intimacy, togetherness and resilience as we go through difficult times together.

Dating or not, everyone needs a friend or four who can help them see the levity of a situation just so they can get through it. And get through it better than they went into it. Who doesn’t want to get through life’s toughest challenges better than they went into them?

Just because we’re Christians does not mean that life doesn’t sneak up on us and do bad things. We may believe in the sovereignty of God, but, if we’re realistic, we realize that the Lord allows much more into our lives than we signed up for. What is our response going to be?

Are we going to become bitter, caustic, pessimistic, guarded, dour, sour, surly, and sunless?

Or are we going to become better, wiser, more empathetic and joyful, genuine, and optimistic or at least realistic? Because realism is not everything is always bad, or will remain bad. Of all people, Christians are the only ones who can reframe anything and everything that comes into our lives. According to Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th Ed., reframe means “changing the conceptual and/or emotional viewpoint in relation to which a situation is experienced and placing it in a different frame that fits thefacts’ of a concrete situation equally well, thereby changing its entire meaning.”

And according to the Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine, reframing is “a technique for altering negative or self-defeating thought patterns by deliberately replacing them with positive, constructive self-talk. For example, athletes might reframe negative self-talk following failure in a competition by telling themselves that it was a useful learning experience. Frequently included in mental training programs. Also known as cognitive restructuring.”

The ability to smile and laugh at whatever comes your way—reframing whatever you go through—will help you do more than go through life. It’ll help you Grow through life.

Sooner or later, someone will come into your life who will notice this sparkling quality in you. They may unconsciously recognize that you have a good quality that they could live with the rest of your lives together and decide they really want to get to know you better.

So don’t be afraid to laugh out loud. Don’t just put LOL at the end of a text. Laugh! Out! Loud!

And it’s important to laugh and lighten up a little every day. I have been saying for years that everyone should laugh hard enough that their face hurts at least once a week, if not every day! “I pity the fool” who can’t find something positive and healthy to laugh at every day. I give myself fresh material regularly to laugh at. How much do you laugh at yourself?

My hair was looking pretty funny at the gym this morning after I finished a cardio class working my abs on the floor. I’m sure I was smelling pretty funny when I ran to a local eatery afterwards to buy a medium coffee (which tends to increase inflammation) and a caramel apple scone (which tends to increase weight gain) to make up for the calories I’d just burned off (now all that’s another blog for another day)!

I was reading a rabbit-trail article tonight while researching for this one about how correct grammar and spelling were two of the newest screening criteria for selecting a date through online dating sites. I am picky about grammar and spelling, though I’m not perfect at it. I could see myself deleting all my potential suitors until I end up with Snoopy or someone else pretty innocuous.

One way I make myself laugh is by creating funny memes. I typically use ordinary or even heart-warming photos that I have taken or that others have taken and add something stupid funny that makes people laugh. Some of my memes are actually starting to make the rounds through FB. My predominant targets are animals, complete strangers, and friends’ children.

Sometimes I remember stupid things I have done or funny things that others have said and crack myself up at the most inopportune times. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to explain to my colleagues why I was giggling to myself since coming to work at a mental health clinic. They’re used to it now and wait for me to come over with my phone, new memory or meme in hand.

Again… how often dost thou laughest? And how often dost thou laughest at thyself?

One of the best ways of lightening up your load and finding a fresh perspective from which to find and practice daily humor is taking a dump. Yep, I said it! And I’m a girl!

Take a dump… Dump unnecessary junk from your life that is sucking up your time, energy, motivation, and joy, and giving absolutely nothing positive and righteous back to you. For instance, dumping false guilt, poor boundaries, unhealthy habits, and ungodly attitudes that war against the Spirit (Romans 8:5—8; Galatians 5:16—21) will definitely lighten up your load. God’s Spirit will be much freer to work in your heart and life when He doesn’t have to wade through so much flesh to help you find positive ways of developing humor and resilience.

You might also have a person or two in your life who are absolutely toxic to your positive emotional growth and spiritual health. You might have to have a temporary separation, emotional surgery, to forcibly remove the likes of them from your heart (Matt. 5:37 and 18:15—17; 1 Cor. 5:4—6; Gal. 5:1; 1 John 3:10). Eventually you can get strong and healthy enough to let them in on your (reasonable) terms. Boundaries will be another blog for another day. But for today—if you have a person like that in your life—pray about and plan how to take that dump!

Then it will be easier for you to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously except for areas in which you need to repent and be transformed into His image (2 Cor. 3:17-18). You’ll also be free to improve or maintain a positive and clean sense of humor that will get you through life better, not bitter.

Only take the most important things seriously. And even then, you can’t take it all seriously, every moment! I don’t care for his values, but Elbert Hubbard got one thing right when he said, “Don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out of it alive!”

Actually, even if we are alive at the time of the Rapture, it would be good to have a balanced perspective tempered by humor and joy… The serious business of heaven.

REFERENCES

Alistair Begg. What should you look for in a mate? Part of a 3-part radio broadcast to singles on Family Life Today, originally aired 8/10/07. http://marriagemissions.com/what-should-you-look-for-in-a-mate/  accessed 01/18/16.

Dr. Lee Berk, Loma Linda University. Is Laughter Good Medicine? Video from article, Laughter Remains Good Medicine, published in the CA Science Daily. Posted to WebMD 2012. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/video/is-laughter-good-medicine   accessed 12/28/15

Greengross & Miller, 2011. Humor ability reveals intelligence, predicts mating success, and is higher in males. Published in Intelligence.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/sites/default/files/attachments/95822/humor-predicts-mating-success.pdf accessed 01/18/16.

Mayo Clinic. Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. Website article first posted 7/23/13. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456 accessed 12/28/15

Sharon Jayson. What singles want: survey looks at attractions, turnoffs. USA Today, 02/05/2013 report on Match.com article.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/04/singles-dating-attraction-facebook/1878265/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=206567&AID=10709313&PID=6151029&SID=ijkmyqq27h00j1ep00dth   accessed 01/18/16

Churchill Livingstone. Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine.  2008. accessed 01/18/16 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/reframing

Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. 2009. accessed 01/18/16 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/reframing

Dr. Sophie Scott. 10 things you may not know about laughter. Video posted 10/26/14. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29754636 accessed 01/18/16

Dr. Lauren Ware. 10 different types of humor. First posted on Match.com on 01/16/16. http://datingtips.match.com/10-different-types-humor-13392411.html   accessed 01/18/16.

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