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Happier and Healthier

February 15th, 2010

“I came that they may have and enjoy life . . till it overflows.” John 10:10 Amplified Bible

“Laugh a lot more, and live a lot better, and longer!”

My thoughts today are about “happier and healthier.”

There are some folk, both in and out of the church, who seem to think that God doesn’t appreciate people enjoying themselves. Some would live as though anything fun must be spiritually suspicious, if not plain wrong. No wonder people who are not yet believers are hesitant to have much to do with any church or its families on a personal or social basis. Who wants to hang out with joy-killers?

I have found that truly happy people are usually spiritually and emotionally healthy people as well. Reading the Gospels, I find that Jesus always seemed to be a much sought after guest at dinners, weddings, and parties. People wanted Him to be there. He did not lessen their enjoyment; Jesus seemed to add to every celebration, not take way from it. I don’t see Him standing on the sideline frowning with disapproval of people’s simple joy.

I have traveled to Israel a couple of times, and observed that the Jewish people like music and dancing. I can imagine Jesus and His disciples joining the festivities, without any apology for doing so. One of the godliest men I have ever personally known was a joy to be with, with a ready smile and hearty laugh. “Happy indeed are those whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 145:1 NLT.

Supposedly religious people, who presume for themselves the task of squeezing the joy out of everyone and everything, disappoint me. My Dad laughed a lot and enjoyed friends that did. Our home was a place of fun and laughter. My Dad said that everyone makes others happy – “some make people happy when they come, and others when they leave.” I think we both know people who qualify for the latter. I want to be counted among the first more often than I have.

Give yourself permission to smile more readily, and laugh more frequently. One of the best gifts you can give to your family and friends is a bit more laughter in your life and theirs. Here’s Solomon’s practical wisdom on the matter: “A happy heart makes the face cheerful; the cheerful heart has a continual feast; a cheerful heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 15:13,15 and 17:22 NIV. That sounds to me like God considers people with a sense of humor to be healthier and happier.

There have been a number of medical and psychological studies that show that humor and happiness – positive emotions and attitude – produce healthier lives. That kind of joy is found in Jesus. The Savior came that you would, “have and enjoy life, till it overflows.” John 10:10. Laughter relieves stress, and stressful situations, lightens the burdens you feel weighing you down, and puts the worst of matters into proper perspective. As a pastor, I have been with grieving families and watched them brighten at the recall of humorous family memories; the good times always outweigh the bad. Laugh a lot more, and live a lot better, and longer!

My prayer for you today is: give your self permission to be unexplainably happy.

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