Laughter CAN Be the Best Medicine

Recently we celebrated my oldest daughter’s 46th birthday. It was a birthday we weren’t sure we would see since her diagnosis of breast cancer in late 2021. This year has been a battle and a challenge for her, and her family, which has included several surgeries, chemo, complications and side effects. She’s not finished with treatment yet.

I know cancer is no laughing matter. I’ve seen it impact my husband (with prostate cancer), my daughter, my sister, my mother, my friends, and I continue to travel that road. Those who have witnessed a loved one suffer through cancer know that it’s an emotional, spiritual, and often physical battle for family as well. It’s sobering all the way around.

Grab onto laughter when it shows up

But recently as my daughter had another birthday, we celebrated. We enjoyed each other's company, we laughed harder than we laughed in years until we had tears in our eyes, we hugged (ignore covid), and we were thankful. I still smile today as I think about it. Laughter no doubt prevailed and was the best medicine for all of us. Not only did we push cancer to the back of our minds – we eradicated it totally from our thoughts. It wasn’t invited to the party, and it wasn’t allowed to show up.

It’s hard to find laughter or even smile during the cancer battle. It’s serious, it’s scary, it takes your breath away. But every now and then, sometimes all of a sudden when it’s not even expected, laughter fills the room, fills your heart, fills your mind. It doesn’t happen often and it can’t be summoned to appear, but when it shows up, grab onto it and hold on. Not only is it okay, but it’s needed and crucial.

Helping us cope

Laughter therapy is a real thing. There are classes and videos that can help people learn to find the lighter side of anything, including cancer. Research studies have found that laughter can reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. Just Google the effects of laughter and there are numerous articles on how laughter can help us all cope with one situation or another. Laughter can change our perception of a situation that would otherwise be overwhelming.1

I guess the point of all this is to find someplace where you can feel the laughter, something that will not only make you smile, but will bring that warmth and joy to your heart that only laughter can do. Let yourself live there for a while, as long as you can. Keep bringing it back: remember what made you feel the warmth of laughter in the first place, and let it touch you again and again. It’s a great medicine and one of the best places to visit.

Putting other things aside, if only briefly

With laughter, other things can be forgotten, or if not totally forgotten, at least lose their place in the priority line. Proverbs 17:22 in the Amplified Bible version tells us, “a happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind can cause healing.” In plain language, laughter is the best medicine. Find that place where you can let the best medicine do its best work.

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