Monday, March 04, 2013

Have You Heard The One About . . . . ?

A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22 (NASB95)
Robert Provine of the University of Maryland has found that people are thirty times more likely to laugh when they are with other people than when they are alone. When people are in bonding situations, laughter flows. Surprisingly, people who are speaking are 46 percent more likely to laugh during conversations than people who are listening. And they're not exactly laughing at hilarious punch lines. Only 15 percent of the sentences that trigger laughter are funny in any way that is discernible. Instead, laughter seems to bubble up spontaneously amidst conversations when people feel themselves responding in parallel ways to the same emotionally positive circumstances.
Even the seemingly mundane parts of humanity, like laughter, show how we've been hardwired by God to love and enjoy relationships. – David Brooks, The Social Animal (Random House, 2011), page 42

I love humor! I’m a sucker for a new joke or funny story. I often share the ones I hear or read with my preacher friends because I know the value of a good joke or story as a sermon illustration.

A fellow preacher once told me that he moved to a new church to be the minister and his first Sunday there one of his elders took him aside and said, “There will be no jokes in the pulpit.” Now you just need to think about this one a minute and you’ll see why my friend had a hard time not cracking up!

Yes, some humor can hurt people, some is raucous and dirty, and some is just plain wacky. But there is also a lot of good, healthy humor in the world. Someone once said that the ability to laugh at oneself is, perhaps, the greatest promoter of sanity in the world. Maybe so!

Not everybody wakes up ever day looking for a laugh. Many are wrestling with problems and situations that frighten them and make them want to hide. Stress, disappointment, and traumas add up to a weight many of us can’t imagine. Laughter may be the last thing those people find interesting. We need to be sensitive to people in pain.

A joke might not even be appropriate for some people, given what they’re trying to deal with. That said, let me urge you to look for the humor in life. On the average day, most of us would do well to experience a belly laugh or two. Look for the humor around you. There’s more than you might expect. And if you hear a good one, tell it to me!