‘A merry heart does good, like medicine.’ Proverbs 17:22 NKJV
The Bible says, ‘A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.’ Do you know that laughter is such good medicine that it can help to relieve stress, cure headaches, fight infections and alleviate hypertension? Some doctors tell us laughing produces physical benefits similar to the benefits we get from vigorous physical exercise. When you throw your head back and laugh out loud, the muscles in the abdomen, chest, shoulders, and elsewhere in your body contract, while your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Just one burst of laughter can cause your pulse rate to double from 60 to 120, while your systolic blood pressure can shoot from a normal 120 to 200. Then once you stop laughing your heartbeat and blood pressure dip below normal—signalling reduced stress.
God created laughter because He knows it’s good for your health. Don’t, however, confuse happiness with merriment. Merriment comes from joy, not happiness, and understanding this is crucial to your emotional well-being.
There are times when we can’t and shouldn’t be happy—when people are hurting, going through tragedy, or losing jobs and loved ones. In the face of injustice, happiness is inappropriate, if not impossible.
Yet the joy that comes from knowing that you are unconditionally loved and accepted by God enables you to remain joyful. That’s because: (1) Happiness is external; joy is internal. (2) Happiness depends on outward circumstances; joy depends on inward character. (3) Happiness depends on what happens to us; joy depends on who lives within us. (4) Happiness is based on chance; joy is based on choice. So today—choose joy!