By Don Boys, Ph.D.
Humor is one of the greatest gifts from a sovereign God although most people see no connection between God and laughter. Ancient Hebrews knew the advantage of laughter. Proverbs 17:22 clearly teaches “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” If humans could not laugh, life would be a dreary experience.
Ancient Greek physicians sent their patients to the theater to be healed by listening to watching the comedians.
Some American Indian tribes had clowns who worked with the witch doctor in healing the sick. The clowns were considered number 3 of importance in the tribe. John Fire Lame Deer wrote: “For people who are as poor as us, who have lost everything, who had to endure so much death and sadness, laughter is a precious gift. When we were dying like flies from white man’s disease, when we were driven into reservations, when the government rations did not arrive and we were starving, watching the pranks and capers of Heyókȟa were [sic] a blessing.”
In the middle ages, court jesters used humor to relieve the king or queen’s stress in the court. They were also known as fool, buffoon or clown. The jester often did his antics during the king’s dinner time to assist his lord’s digestion. This is now recognized as a healthy practice.
French surgeon Henri de Mondeville in the 14th century used humor therapy to help patients recover from surgery. He wrote, “Let the surgeon take care to regulate the whole regimen of the patient’s life for joy and happiness allowing his relatives and special friends to cheer him and by having someone tell him jokes.”
Martin Luther used humor therapy during his pastoral counselling of depressed people. He advised them not to isolate themselves but to surround themselves with friends who could joke and make them laugh.
Then, in the 1930s, clowns were brought into U.S. hospitals to cheer up children who had been hospitalized with crippling and deadly polio.
It is generally known that humor contributes to higher subjective wellbeing (both physical and psychological) as supported byHumor-International Journal of Humor Research.
It is now an axiom, touted by medical experts that laughter is good for your health since it boosts the immune system; however, it also relieves pain, tension, and stress while it stimulates the heart, lowers blood pressure and much more. Laughing instead of crying pays off bigtime.
Studies have proved the above to be true: there is a potential relationship between humor and having a healthy immune system. SIgA is a type of antibody that protects the body from infections. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported an experiment where the participants were shown a short humorous video clip and then tested for the effects. The participants showed a significant increase in SIgA levels.
In 1964, Dr. Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and extremely painful inflammation of his body, which doctors diagnosed as Anklyosing Spondilitis. He did not accept his doctor’s death sentence of one chance in 500 for recovery. He checked himself out of the hospital, hired a nurse, and moved into a hotel. Along with taking massive doses of vitamin C, he watched comedy movies such as Candid Camera, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy and other comedy movies.
He recovered from his illness and spent 20 years teaching about the merits of humor and laughter in healing. He declared, “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.”
Studies have shown that persistent humor as one ages produces health benefits such as higher self-esteem; lower levels of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress; and a more positive self-concept as well as other health benefits.
Humor is not only great for healing; it also has a practical impact on our lives with the opposite sex. Sex Roles revealed that humor and honesty were ranked as the two most important attributes in a potential mate or date. More specifically, Marriage and Family Living reported that 90% of men and 81% of women, all college students, said having a sense of humor was an essential distinctive required when choosing a romantic partner.
I didn’t know all the facts about the positive effects of humor when I wrote my joke books. I did so because I have always used humor in my messages, lectures, debates, books, and columns. For most of my life, I have started the day with saying, “Today, I have a choice of being miserable or being happy and I choose to be happy.” I really enjoy humor and try to use it productively.
Last week my seventeenth book was published titled, The World’s Best Jokes! and I honestly believe the title to be true. I have accumulated the best jokes I have used for more than 40 years and put them in my ebook of almost 300 printed pages of leg slapping humor without a curse word or sexual innuendo but maybe a little hyperbole. I found myself laughing even though I knew the punch lines!
The table of contents includes One Liners, General Humor, Rednecks, Seniors, Religion, Love and Marriage, Blondes, Family, Politicians, Animals, Attorneys, Crime, Death, Doctors, Economy, Education, Good Old Days, Media, Military, Verse, Put Downs, Sports, and Truth with Humor.
Some may ask why a preacher would produce a joke book when there are so many serious problems in the world. There are sex crimes, family problems, murder, child abuse, drug abuse, etc. None of the foregoing is funny except etc. But humor is not only acceptable but also essential to a person’s sanity–if that humor is in good taste.
I make no apology for my book being politically incorrect. I am a Baptist but I make fun of Baptists as well as Catholics, Jews, Palestinians, Muslims, faith healers, etc. I will probably “offend” West Virginians (my birthplace), Kentuckians, Poles, Arabs, Norwegians, Blacks, Mexicans, homosexuals, etc. The Klan, Liberals, and Conservatives are the brunt of some of my jokes.
After all, every group has dummies and incompetents, and it is a joke book!
Boys’ new book The World’s Best Jokes! was published last week as an eBook. To get your copy, click here.
(Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives; ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis, wrote columns for USA Today for eight years; authored 17 books and hundreds of columns and articles for Internet and print media publications; defended his beliefs on hundreds of talk shows. These columns go to newspapers, magazines, television, and radio stations and may be used without change from title through the end tag. His web sites are www.cstnews.com and www.Muslimfact.com and www.thegodhaters.com. Contact Don for an interview or talk show.)
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