As a teenager I read a hilarious, powerful book titled God Loves Laughter by a very enlightened man named William Sears.
Some years later when my son was a teenager, we read it together, and chuckled all the way through. For the first time, listening to him laugh at the same things that made me laugh at his age, I consciously realized how much God and the angels love laughter and what a keen sense of humor they have. From then on I developed an appreciation of the joy and lightheartedness of spirit:
God has a smile on His face. – Psalm 42:5
As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul. – A Jewish Proverb
Humor is a prelude to faith and laughter is the beginning of prayer. – Reinhold Niebuhr
Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive. – Elbert Hubbard
Laughter creates a wonderful antidote to stress. How can you be stressed when you laugh? When you laugh, you can’t help but be in the moment, and in that moment your troubles are forgotten:
Laughter is caused by the slackening or relaxation of the nerves. It is an ideal condition and not physical. Laughter is the visible effect of an invisible cause. For example, happiness and misery are super-sensuous phenomena. One cannot hear them with his ears or touch them with his hands. Happiness is a spiritual state. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 7, p. 102.
When I was young I remember my mother telling me how important a good sense of humor was to navigate this life. She said to not take myself too seriously, and remember to laugh at myself and life’s circumstances. I remember her clearly saying that laughter would be essential in a good marriage, and that has certainly proven itself true. I think when we laugh at ourselves our egos take a back seat and we lighten the stress and drama of any situation.
May this marriage be full of laughter, our every day in paradise. – Rumi
If you would not be laughed at, be the first to laugh at yourself. – Benjamin Franklin
Laughter has been known to have a marvelous effect, not only on the spirit but on the body. Norman Cousins—a popular writer and editor for the Saturday Review, global peacemaker, and receiver of the UN Peace Medal with nearly 50 honorary doctorate degrees—was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease called ankylosing spondylitis. His doctors gave him only months to live. He refused to be sad and depressed at this diagnosis, but instead checked himself out of the hospital with his doctor’s consent and into a hotel across the street. He then began taking extremely high doses of vitamin C while watching a constant stream of hilarious movies or anything that would make him laugh. Each day he laughed and laughed, keeping his spirits bright and happy, saying that 10 minutes of belly-ripping laughter would give him two hours of pain free sleep; this when not even morphine would help him. His condition improved steadily and within six months he was up again. His story has been the subject of many scientific research projects and is a powerful example of the power of laughter.
Laughter serves as a blocking agent. Like a bulletproof vest, it may help protect you against the ravages of negative emotions that can assault you in disease. – Norman Cousins
People who laugh actually live longer than those who don’t laugh. Few persons realize that health actually varies according to the amount of laughter. – James J. Walsh
Humour is an essential element in our comprehension of reality. – The Universal House of Justice, July 23, 1985.
In prison for most of his life, Abdu’l-Baha—the son of Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith—went through the most depressing and horrific situations and conditions, but he still discovered ways to find joy and laughter:
Abdu’l-Baha loved laughter and His laughter was often a source of solace… When they were in prison, He said, and under the utmost deprivation and difficulties, each of them at the close of the day would relate the most ludicrous event which had happened. Sometimes it was difficult to find one but always they would laugh until the tears would run down their cheeks. Happiness, He said, is never dependent upon material surroundings, otherwise, how sad those years would have been. As it was they were always in the utmost state of joy and happiness… – Annamarie Honnold, Vignettes from the Life of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 149-151.
I have to say, some of my happiest moments were when my children were living at home as teenagers. They both had great senses of humor, loved to laugh and often played jokes on each other, as well as on my husband and I. We laughed many times each day, and one of my fondest memories was falling asleep to the sweet sound of their laughter coming from the living room where they were watching a funny TV show or playing games. Pure joy radiated throughout the house and the happiness was contagious:
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. – William Thackeray
There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor. – Charles Dickens
Finally, laughter should never be at the expense of others or be representative of prejudice on any level. This entirely distorts its light and playful nature and becomes hurtful and the cause of disunity. We should find and utilize every opportunity to laugh, because it can be a spark of joy, health, and spiritual unity. Laughter is a precious gift from God.