View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Monday, May 5, 2014

Laughter, the best medicine



Proverbs 17:22  A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

As I have aged I have grown to appreciate God’s sense of humor, both in my life and other’s.  I look at how some of us are created, our looks, the different quirks we have, and how different events have occurred in our lives and there is no doubt that God has a sense of humor.  He also enjoys doing things for us that bring joy to our lives.  Several times events have occurred that we know God provided that brought either laughter or joy, and sometimes both, to us when there was no reasonable explanation for what was happening. 

For example, I have been kind of jealous of those who live along Hunter lane and the resident wild turkeys that abound there.  This summer I started thinking about contacting Fish and Wildlife about having some planted on my place.  We have plenty of brush and protected areas for them and it appeared to me that they would do well.  But since one of my “gifts” is procrastinating, that’s as far as it went.  I never mentioned it to anyone. 

The other day, Quincy and I walked to the paper box (1 mile away, because that’s the closest that the Observer will deliver, which is a mile closer than it use to be, but don’t get me started on that issue) when I noticed some movement down by the creek that runs through our place.  It was at first hard to tell from the county road what sort of creatures  were coming out of the brush into the wheat stubble field, but I knew they were something I had not seen in the 28 years we have owned this place.  They were kind of moving low to the ground, but when several of them stood up straight and stuck their heads up high to look around, it was easy to see that they were wild turkeys.  There were close to 30 in the flock and they were about 6 to 8 miles from where they normally hang out.  How did they get here?  Walked, I guess.  Maybe the wind blew them in.  Normally we only get stuff blown in from La Grande and Union, not Mt. Emily.  At any rate, Jeri and I and our two neighbors have gotten more pleasure and joy out of watching those turkeys than we probably deserve.  As you may notice, it doesn’t take much to amuse us.

Which brings me to an article taken from the 11-21-01 edition of the Oregonian and their Science page.  The researchers at the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine, did a study showing the anticipation of cheerful events results in behavior changes known to reduce stress hormone levels and boost the immune system’s response to disease.  They found that anticipating a mirthful (?) event reduced levels of tension, anger, depression, fatigue and confusion up to two days before the actual event. 

In previous research, they and others had shown that chronic stress can depress the immune system and that exposure to a one-hour humorous video reduces stress hormones. After watching the video, depression and anger both went down 98 percent, fatigue dropped 87 percent, confusion was down 75 percent, and tension was down 61 percent.     Maybe that explains why I always felt so good after playing golf with Gary Hart and Jeff Vermeer.  Four hours of golf with them is pretty funny!

I guess that explains why I enjoy being around people like Gary Hart, Faye Winkle, Jeff Vermeer and my sister, Sharon.  We make each other laugh and it feels good, and apparently it is therapeutic.  One of the researchers, Lee Berk, said “Positive anticipation of humor starts the ball rolling in a sense, in which moods begin to change in ways that help the body fight illness.”  

Since I first wrote this article, my sister Sharon passed away unexpectedly just a few weeks ago.  She had become my biggest sourse for laughing.  She and I would call each other and begin talking and before you knew it we would be belly laughing over seemingly nothing.   She would send me cartons of funny stuff, stories, anything that she felt was funny.  I miss that terribly already.  

Some of you have shared with me how much you enjoy these articles and how you look forward to them each month.  Well, maybe they are God’s gift to you,  part of God’s plan to make you feel better, to be healthier. 

The bottom line is we all need to laugh more, complain less, and see the humor in things and events instead of just the bad parts.  I guess that is why I enjoy the comics so much.  The rest of the paper is depressing, but I can laugh with the comics. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4   There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven - a time to weep, and a time to laugh;  a time to mourn, and a time to dance.       I vote for more laughing and dancing, less griping and stomping our feet, and we will all feel better. 

Mike Query, Chief clown and court jester.