Health – A Merry Heart

Your body was created for action, and each system of the body has a specific need to retain its health. The immune system is one of those internal systems that needs action to work properly.

Your immune system depends upon a good internal jog each day. How do you accomplish this? You laugh! Many of us have read or heard that a good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving our muscles relaxed. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving our resistance to disease. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow.

“A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13.

“The relation that exists between the mind and the body is very intimate. When one is affected the other sympathizes. The condition of the mind affects the health to a far greater degree than many realize. Many of the diseases from which men suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death.” My Life Today, 151.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22.

So often we seem to overlook the simple things in life that can help to preserve or restore our immune systems, including internal jogging. The following excerpt is taken from the book, The Owner’s Manual for The Brain, Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research, Second Edition, Pierce J. Howard, Ph.D., Bard Press, Austin, Texas, 170, 171.

“Norman Cousins is known as the founder of phychoneuroimmunology (PNI). Originally he called the concept of mentally influencing the immune system “hardiness.” One of the four critical ingredients of hardiness is positive emotions, which Cousins defines as maintaining a sense of humor and general joyfulness. He refers to laughter as “internal jogging.” Laughter is healthy. Laughter appears to be an especially important ingredient in recovering from life-threatening illnesses. Cousins found that even a few moments of laughter can reduce the sedimentation rate, which is a measure of inflammation. Specifically, according to research by Lee S. Berk, a professor at the Schools of Medicine and Public Health at Loma Linda University in California (APA Monitor, September 1997, p. 18), laughter results in:

  • Enhanced respiration
  • An increased number of immune cells
  • An increase in immune-cell proliferation
  • A decrease in cortisol
  • An increase in endorphins
  • An increase in salivary immunoglobulin type A concentrations

“Tests of problem-solving ability yield better results when they are preceded by laughter. Laughter has a way of turning off posterior hypothalamic activity and allowing the cerebral cortex to carry on stress-free activity. Cousins reports that ten minutes of laughter can provide a person who is in pain with at least two hours of good sleep.

“Michelle G. Newman, a psychologist at Pennsylvania State University, reports from her research that people can learn to use humor as a coping device and that this learned humor has marked effects. Ibid.

Even the world is realizing that what our minds are thinking upon affects our health and that a merry heart is needed for our health. The Christian knows where to find that merry heart.

“The condition of the mind affects the health of the physical system. If the mind is free and happy, from a consciousness of rightdoing and a sense of satisfaction in causing happiness to others, it creates a cheerfulness that will react upon the whole system, causing a freer circulation of the blood and a toning up of the entire body.” Counsels on Health, 28.

Let’s put on those garments of rejoicing as stated in the following:

“Sorrow comes and goes; it is the lot of man; we should not seek to magnify it, but rather dwell upon that which is bright and pleasant. When winter spreads its icy covering over the earth, we do not let our gladness freeze up with the flowers and brooks and continually mourn because of the dismal days and the chilling winds. On the other hand, we reach forward in imagination to the coming summer, with its warmth and life and beauty. Meanwhile we enjoy all the sunshine that comes to us, and find much comfort, in spite of the cold and snow, while we are waiting for nature to put on her fresh, bright garments of rejoicing.” In Heavenly Places, 274.

Don’t think upon the negative, but look forward to our heavenly home and let some of that internal jogging take place right here and now; have a merry heart that will help to preserve our immune systems and keep them in good working order so that heaven’s influence may touch others.