Franciscan Spirit Blog

The Importance of Being Happy

Kids giggling

Turn on the news these days and you may be hard-pressed to find a reason to be happy. COVID-19 and social unrest have taken over our feeds and our joy.

Unfortunately, our daily lives tend to mimic that dour mood. Too often our responsibilities—work, family, friends, neighbors—make life seem like a never-ending list of less-than-fun tasks. For some, joy, humor, and laughter seem an extravagance. But the truth is, we need joy in our lives. Don’t believe me? Open your Bible to Proverbs 17:22 and take heed: “A joyful heart is the health of the body.”

Taking a Cue from Kids

If there’s one thing I can count on my four kids for, it is to remind me to rejoice in life and laugh. And they always seem to know just when I need it most. Recently, I came home from work tired and was faced with an evening of cooking dinner, doing laundry, giving baths, and performing bedtime rituals. In short, I was feeling less than joyous.

As I tucked my daughter into bed, I put my head on her stomach out of sheer exhaustion. Suddenly, she began to giggle. Perhaps you are familiar with that sound: the high-pitched giggle that sends a warm sensation throughout your body. The next thing I knew, I was giggling. The more she laughed, the more I laughed. When we finally composed ourselves, she grabbed my face in her little hands and said, “I like when we do that, Mommy.”

“I do too,” I replied. “Can you help Mommy do it more often?”

Laugh for the Health of It

The many health benefits of laughter are well documented, but often taking the time to have fun gets labeled as a luxury or a waste of valuable time. But according to more and more research, laughter can be just what the doctor ordered.

Research has shown that laughter strengthens our immune system, reduces stress, and even gives us a workout by exercising the heart, lungs, and diaphragm. Socially, laughter can break down barriers and make it easier to meet and communicate with people.

Throughout the world, organizations such as The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor are working to promote the need for research and application of the benefits of humor and laughter in our lives.

Hopefully, you’re already convinced of the need for joy in your life. Here are some ideas to help prompt you on your way to a more joyful and laughter-filled life:

  • Make being joyful and having fun priorities in life. Read the comics, share a joke, watch your favorite funny movie, smile at someone, laugh at something silly your kids did, or do something silly yourself.
  • Have a family laugh night. Stream funny movies to watch together—one the whole family can enjoy and then, after the kids have gone to bed, a comedy geared more toward adults.
  • Give yourself a daily reminder to laugh and have fun. Post cartoons or funny quotes around your home and office.
  • Keep a “Things That Make Me Laugh” file. Collect cartoons, articles, jokes—anything that makes you laugh. When you need a quick burst of joy, grab the file and read through a couple of the items.
  • Surround yourself with things that make you happy or laugh, such as toys, stuffed animals, or pictures. My home and office are filled with toys, photos of my husband and kids being silly, and other gadgets that help to remind me at a glance not to take things so seriously and to always make time for fun.

Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” Let us all take that to heart.

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