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Turning Joy To Strength

by Cate Russell-Cole  
11/02/2015 / Self Help


I constantly hear complaints from people who receive a lot of joke e-mails in their in-box. I don't know if passing on jokes has become a substitute for real communication and that offends people, or if we have become so driven by work that we just don't have time to stop and chuckle anymore. I generally read these e-mails because I find a quick laugh lightens the load of my day.

The World Health Organisation has released statistics that indicate that by 2020 depression will be the most common illness in the world, and that serious episodes of depression will be the second largest cause of death and disability. Depression is not an affluent western disease. It affects all cultures and all social classes. It affects more than mental health, as it can be a trigger which causes many diseases, including heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and the United States.

According to the University of Maryland (U.S.A.), mental stress causes inflammatory reactions in the blood vessels which lead to fat and cholesterol build up. This has the potential to lead to heart attack if it remains untreated. A study by the University's Cardiologists found that "people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations." Thus, they were far more prone to stress, negativity and depression. (For the full article please visit http://www.umm.edu/features/laughter.htm) Their recommendation for good cardiac health, as well as eating right and exercise, is now to "try to find ways to take ourselves less seriously." One way to do this is to make it a habit to fit a good laugh or two into your day.

The International Stress Management Association in the United Kingdom calls laughter "inner aerobics." Laughing not only releases the hormones called endorphins which make you feel good, but it also improves blood circulation, stops headaches and stimulates the production of infection fighting T cells in the blood stream. Compare how you feel when you are stressed or unhappy, with how you feel when you laugh. It won't take you long to realise which one is better for you.

The motto of the British Laughter Clinic Project is "If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy!" They quote Proverbs 17:22 "A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." For years in church I sung chorus' about the joy of the Lord being my strength without understanding the meaning. Now it seems modern medicine is finally recognising and utilising a principle that God created before time itself. Being joyful gives you a more positive outlook on life, and better health. No matter what you look like, a smile on your face suits you.

The Scriptures encourage us to focus on what is good, and pure and just. We're told to give thanks to God in all things, which is a way of adopting a positive outlook. There world can be a black, dismal place, but if you find something to be grateful for and smile about, it will seem much better!

This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Written in Australian English.

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