Truly the best medicine…

“As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.”

Jewish Proverb

There is nothing like laughter to make all the ills of the world disappear, even if only for a moment or two. This isn’t a new or contemporary realization of course. King Solomon wrote this verse in the book of Proverbs millennia ago; ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ‘ Proverbs 17:22

If you search for “the healing power of laughter” you will find countless results online. Well according to the Google search I just did there were about 11,700,000 results. One explanation on the power of laughter that I really liked came from the website for “The Council on Recovery”

“Laughing releases endorphins from your brain, reduces the level of stress in your body, and strengthens the immune system.  It is proven that laughter therapy, also known as humor therapy, can reduce negativity, emotional stress, and physical discomfort.”

Isn’t that exactly what we need right now? A reduction in stress? A strengthening of the immune system? A reduction in negativity, emotional stress and physical discomfort?

It can be so easy to become sucked into a vortex of negativity through stress inducing news alerts and a constant barrage of statistics on infection rates, government mandated shut downs, and a whole host of other negative mental influences. How can you possibly laugh if all the content that is pouring into your brain is evoking your primal “flight or fight” response?

If you want to laugh, you have to be intentional in creating the opportunities to do so by feeding your mind with humorous content and by surrounding yourself with others who make you laugh. Last night my wife and I did a virtual meeting with other couples from our church LifeGroup and while some of our discussion was on serious matters I would say that over 75% of the time we were just sharing stories and laughing. It was such a great way to break free from the mundane and seriousness of our current world.

There are a million ways to laugh, be intentional today and seek out things that hit your “funny bone” and bring joy to your heart. Whether it is funny cat videos on YouTube or a comedy special from a great comedian, you have within your power the ability to take what just might be your most important medicine. I’ll leave you with this from Dr. Viktor Frankl (who went through far worse things that we will ever experience), I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable.”

Laugh a little, that funny pill might be just what the doctor ordered….

The most powerful human freedom…

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor E. Frankl

Last year I had the incredible chance to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Words cannot describe this place, nor the pervasive sense of sadness that emanates from every corner. It wasn’t a place where you could laugh or smile, it was hard enough to find the words to simply talk to another person while there.  I vividly remember walking into the “Auschwitz 2” portion of the camp (the purpose built death camp) and there was a group of high school or college age students  walking out talking and laughing and I wanted to yell at them to be quiet to have some respect and appreciation for this place and the evil that had happened there less than 75 years before.  It was just not a place for laughter.

 

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A view through the wire to the gatehouse at Auschwitz-Birkenau

I first read Viktor Frank’s book Man’s Search For Meaning over 25 years ago and have long considered it to be one of the top ten, or perhaps top five, books that I have read in my lifetime.  Until I visited Auschwitz I don’t think I truly understood the depth of meaning that was captured in these pages.  The difference that happens to a person when they have a purpose, a meaning, a reason for living is simply astounding.  If you haven’t read this book I highly encourage you to do so.  I recently picked it back up and find the words  even more powerful now than in my previous readings.  If you ever have the chance to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau it is an experience that you will never forget.  No one should ever forget what happened there…  

We have the power to choose our attitude.  We have the choice of being a victim or an owner of our own situation and how we react to it.  This is incredibly powerful.  It is what separates those with purpose from those who are simply existing through life.  It might be the “last human freedom” as Viktor states it but I believe it is the most powerful and impactful freedom we have as mankind.  God gave us this gift of choice, the freedom to choose how we react, what we choose to focus on, how we choose to respond.  It is an incredible gift and blessing, one not to be overlooked or swept away.  

I hope and pray that no one that I love will ever have to endure anything remotely close to what Viktor, and millions of others, experienced during the Holocaust.  It is important to realize that the powerful lesson in this message doesn’t apply only in the most extreme circumstances, it applies every single day.  How we frame our lives and the intentional purpose that we are seeking to fulfill, is what I pray for myself, and those that I love to find on a daily basis.  It is a choice.  One that we all have…  

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Auschwitz Guardhouse

 

 

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