It’s beginning to look a lot like...flu season. Or something to that effect. I had heard from a few folks and read Facebook posts from a few others during the holidays, who were struggling with everything from stomach bugs to bad colds. But I never thought I’d be next in line to catch it. But some version of a flu bug has come to visit us, and I must say he is not a very friendly little varmint.
I don’t know about you, but usually when I get sick, my natural tendency is to throw a big pity party. But I’m reminded of the Scripture verse that says, “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Prov. 17:22) In other words, the Bible tells us that our attitude affects our physical health–and I have a choice about how I’m going to respond to difficulties.
Many years ago, Norman Cousins was diagnosed as “terminally ill.” He was given six months to live and told that his chance of recovery was 1 in 500. Instead of rolling over and quitting, however, Cousins decided to make an experiment of himself. He would try to have as positive an attitude as possible, no matter how sick he felt. And laughter was one of the most positive activities he knew.
So he rented all the funny movies he could find. He read funny stories. He asked his friends to call him whenever they said, heard or did something funny. His pain was so great he could not sleep. But laughing for ten solid minutes, he found, relieved the pain for several hours so he could sleep.
He fully recovered from his illness and lived another twenty happy, healthy and productive years. His journey is detailed in his book,“Anatomy of an Illness.” He credits laughter, as well as the love of his family and friends, for his recovery. It was “good like medicine.”
I’m not saying that it’s that easy, all the time, and I surely wouldn’t want to discount the effect of faith in our physical healing–or sometimes the lack of healing as being part of God’s will. But I am saying that maybe there’s more to life than just how we feel. Maybe, just maybe, we do have some choices about how merry and joyful our heart will be, even if our circumstances–and our health–aren’t so merry.
By the way, since Cousins’ ground-breaking subjective work, scientific studies have shown that laughter has a curative effect on the body, the mind and the emotions. So, you might want to consider it sound medical advice to indulge in it as often as you can. Even if you don’t like laughter, then take your medicine–laugh anyway! You’ll be glad you did.
We’ll be sure to have plenty of hand sanitizer around on Sunday, and for that matter we may do more elbow bumps than handshakes. Either way, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.