“…Laugh as much as possible, always laugh. It’s the sweetest thing one can do for oneself & one’s fellow human beings…” – Maya Angelou

Our #WellnessWednesday blog this week comes from our Rev Tim Marshall: To keep fit, I’ve taken up quiet tennis. It’s like regular tennis, but without the racquet. The mountains aren’t just funny, they’re….hill areas.

Whether those two jokes were hilarious or not depends on you. A sense of humour is unique and we all find different things funny. Children enjoy the silly jokes out of kid’s joke books but we may only slightly chuckle at those if it was three in the morning. I’ve had people burst out laughing at something in one congregation only to be met by blank stares at the same joke in a different congregation.

Sometimes we need time to pass before we find something funny (‘too soon…too soon’) but we all like to laugh, don’t we? Humour can be used powerfully to critique those in power. We also look for ‘the funny’ in tough times because ‘if we don’t laugh, we’ll cry’.

Thinkers throughout the ages have long recognized the value of humour:

  • Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face” — Victor Hugo
  • “Mirth is God’s medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it” — Henry Ward Beecher
  • “Laughter is God’s soothing touch on a fevered world” — Kenneth Hildebrand
  • “It is bad to suppress laughter. It goes back down and spreads to your hips” – Fred Allen
  • “Laughter is God’s hand on the shoulder of a troubled world” — Bettenell Huntznicker

Humour can also help unite us across differences:

  • “We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh” – Agnes Repplier
  • “Laughter is the foundation of reconciliation” – St. Francis de Sales

Reinhold Niebuhr said that “laughter is the beginning of prayer”. The Wisdom writers record in Proverbs 17:22 (MSG): “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired”.

I don’t know exactly how you, your family and your income have been affected by the pandemic, but I’m pretty sure there has been some level of stress and anxiety. We’ve all been reminded of some helpful advice on how to cope during this time from sleep and exercise to breathing and baking. At the risk of adding to the abundance of advice out there, here’s one more: pursue laughter.

Google some jokes, challenge everyone to share a joke online or over the dinner table or play a fun board game. Put laughing on your to-do list. Everyday.

Try these clean comedians:

Rev Susan Sparks, an ex-lawyer turned comedian turned minister says, “suffering is not who we are; it is what we are experiencing. When we find something to smile about in a place of pain, the balance of power shifts and we reclaim control. We take life back. Laughter reassures us that no matter what comes at us, even if it defeats us, it will never define us”.

Now that’s worth smiling about…