What does joy look like to you? My wife Betty gave me a comic glimpse as she came undone with joy.
We were sitting at our dining room table before heading off for bed. Betty was reading a magazine article (see link below if you want to know what makes Betty chuckle – between laughs, she gasps out, “I’ve found my humour soul-mate!”). Every few sentences she had to put her head down and stop, overtaken by giggles. She reads a few more lines and the giggles erupt into belly-deep guffaws. A few more lines down and she has just lost it, falling into a teary eyed speechless hilarity that will not be stopped, overcome with laughter.
It was a delight simply to watch her laugh, to join in the joy of hilarity taking over her body, a vicarious experience of joy. There is something infectious about joy; we can share in another’s joy and perhaps even catch a taste of it for ourselves.
It also got me thinking of the physiology of laughter and joy. Something really good happens to our bodies when we laugh – facial and abdominal muscles are worked out (ever have your face hurt because you’ve laughed so hard), endorphins are released, the brain is engaged, you increase heart activity and improve blood circulation, and you get a cardio workout as you gasp for breath between laughs.
Mike Mason writes that “joy is like a muscle and the more you exercise it the stronger it grows.” In that case, laughter just might be my best training regimen for experiencing joy. And I’m aiming for a six-pack of ripped joy. Besides, I’ll never have six-pack abs – at least none that you could actually see – and I could get real whiny about that, so instead why not buff up my joy?
Here’s the link to the article Betty was reading at the time – it’s the article called “Stuff Christians like: sometimes faith is funny.” (p. 42) http://www.relevantmagazine.com/digital-issue-45