I love how scientific research backs up the Scriptural truth that a “a cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Time Magazine just came out with an article called “Curing What Ails You” on The Science of Laughter.
This reminds me of the many documented health benefits of laughter I list in my book Possessing Joy: A Secret to Strength and Longevity. Below I have shared an excerpt from the book.
Before I share this, I think it’s important to recognize that religious tradition has devalued the role gladness and laughter have for personal victory and kingdom advancement. “In His presence is fullness of joy” (Psalms 16:11). His presence may not always produce joy, but if we never or rarely have fullness of joy, we must reevaluate our concept of God.
Here is a great “scientific” encouragement to laugh more from Possessing Joy:
Researchers at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, and Oakcrest Health Research Institute in Yucaipa, California, discovered that a good belly laugh (or even the anticipation of laughter) has a beneficial effect on our body’s hormones. They studied 32 healthy men, half of whom were instructed to view an hour-long funny video. The other half were told to sit in a room with an assortment of magazines.
Blood was drawn from each man before, during and after the experiment. The scientists discovered (even before the video clips started to play) that those chosen to watch the humorous videos had 27 percent more beta-endorphins and 87 percent more human growth hormone in their blood on average than the other group. The levels of these beneficial hormones remained high during and after the experiment.
The research, presented in San Francisco in 2006 at an American Physiological Society session, adds to previous studies that reveal that humor has healthy “side effects”, such as lowering levels of two stress hormones – cortisol and epinephrine.
Researchers stated that the benefits created by laughter are similar to those produced by exercise. For example, laughing has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. It lowers overall blood pressure levels and decreases the resting heart rate. Also, the immune system appears to get tuned up when we laugh. Maybe we should get serious about a good laugh!
I believe this gives us more than enough reason to make laughter a daily goal! My personal goal is to laugh 400 times a day. I invite you to join me and find the funny in everyday life!
For more on the topic of joy and laughter, listen to this week’s podcast, Laughter’s Amazing Benefits, where I share from this and other studies about the importance of prioritizing laughing in our daily lives.
For additional resources and reading on the topic of joy check out our Abounding Hope & Joy Curriculum or my book Possessing Joy. I’ve also linked where to find Time Magazine’s book The Science of Laughter here.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.