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Do You Need a Pill or a Joke?
By Joel Osteen - Sep 16, 2011
"The opposite of play isn't work; it's depression," says Dr. Stuart Brown, Psychiatrist and founder of the National Institute of Play. He became interested in the effects of laughter and play on people's lives back in 1966 when the Governor of Texas asked him to investigate the tower shooting on the University of Texas. In this tragedy, a troubled young man killed sixteen people and wounded thirty-two others. As Dr. Brown studied this young man's life, the one thing that stuck out was that he had never played normally as a child. He grew up in such a dysfunctional, high-stress family that his play life was very limited. This piece of information so interested Dr. Brown that he went on to interview other death row inmates. He discovered that a high percentage of them also had not played normally or freely as children. Dr. Brown could see clearly the link between a lack of play and depression. He believes we need to play and laugh as much as we need to sleep in order to be physically and emotionally healthy.

Proverbs 17:22 tells us that "a happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing" (AMP). When you're in a good mood, full of joy, taking time to laugh and play, it's like taking vitamins or good medicine. In fact, medical science tells us that laughing boosts our immune system. It reduces blood pressure. Some studies show that people who laugh regularly are 40% less likely to have a heart attack than those who don't!

Laughter also triggers the right side of the brain, which helps creativity and decision making. When you have a good laugh, you activate the body's natural tranquilizers that calm you and help you sleep better. Many people today suffer from insomnia, but maybe all they need to do is simply laugh more!

I heard about a woman who had to constantly take tranquilizers to help her sleep. But, she had taken tranquilizers for so long that her body became accustomed to them and hardly helped any more. The woman tried different diets, doctors and herbs, but nothing seemed to work. Then she went to a doctor who gave her a very unusual prescription. He said, "Every night before you go to bed, watch something funny—a funny movie, a funny video, a funny sitcom—something that makes you laugh."

The woman followed his advice night after night. As the days passed, she slept better and better. Finally, she was totally off her sleep medications and snoozing like a baby.

What happened? This woman learned how to release God's natural tranquilizers that were created inside of her. How many headaches, backaches, migraines, chronic pain or fatigue would be relieved if people played, laughed and simply enjoyed life more?

I believe that no matter what is happening in the world around us, God wants us to enjoy life. That's why I've written my new book, Every Day A Friday. We shouldn't just look forward to one day a week; we should look forward to every day. I encourage you to pick up your copy and get one for a friend or family member. We all need a boost from time to time, and I believe this book may be just what you need to help you enjoy life more and embrace the fullness of God's blessing! Remember, we only get one shot at today. Make the most of it and take time to laugh and savor the moments God has given you!
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