Laughter is the best medicine

Published 7:38 pm Sunday, August 12, 2018

Writing in her book “Erma Bombeck A Life in Humor,” Susan Edwards shared several of the remarks that were made at Mrs. Bombeck’s Memorial Service. One of the comments eulogizing Erma was made by a friend and fellow campaigner for the Equal Rights Amendment. This friend, Elizabeth Carpenter, said and I quote: “Everything Erma Bombeck touched turned to life. Her gift of laughter made the daily humdrum chores lighter. We all lost a darling and a happy heart.”

To me, what stands out here about the humorist, Erma Bombeck, are the words, “Her gift of laughter.” How critically important those words are for living in a contentious world like ours.

Laughter is the thing that makes most everything else on my list doable. So many people tend to lose the joy in their lives. And I’m not even referring to the trials and tribulations that come our way. I’m talking about life’s awesome responsibilities that have a way of creeping up on us wearing us out, making us deadly serious and robbing us of our laughter and joy.

Comedian Michael Pritchard says, “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”

Now, before reviewing several of the benefits of laughter, let’s focus for a moment on the familiar words of the writer of Proverbs when he states, “A cheerful heart is a good medicine… (17:22)”. There are a number of proverbs that lift up the value of cheerfulness for the person who cultivates an upbeat and joyful outlook upon life. And not surprising, good health is one of the resulting dividends.

Laughter makes us feel good! But not only does it make us feel good, it brings healing.

William James pointed out that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes. How true!

You may recall Norman Cousin’s book “Anatomy of An Illness.” The book was about Mr. Cousin’s own struggle to overcome an incurable illness. He described how his laughter, his refusal to accept the incurable verdict, his determined will to live, and his becoming a partner in the development of his treatment led to his recovery.

Cousin’s life was altered by his own attitude. But note the crucial role that Cousin’s laughter played in his healing. So the old saying in Proverbs is no joke, “Laughter is a good medicine.”

Laughter also gives us a proper perspective on life!