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Hauser: Laughter will always be the best medicine

My wife, Teresa, had a glorious "welcome" to her 50s last week as she was blessed with the joy of her first colonoscopy. I sat in the waiting room with eight other people as she had her procedure. When a nurse walked in and said, "John?" two of u...

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Jon Hauser, columnist.

My wife, Teresa, had a glorious "welcome" to her 50s last week as she was blessed with the joy of her first colonoscopy. I sat in the waiting room with eight other people as she had her procedure. When a nurse walked in and said, "John?" two of us stood up. As I stepped towards the nurse she asked me who I was there for and I said, "Teresa." She said, "Yep, she's ready. Isn't it funny there were two Johns in the waiting room?"

When I got to the recovery room and saw the lady in recovery, it was immediately clear this was not my wife. I walked back into the waiting room, and as I entered everyone in the waiting room burst out laughing. One of the ladies in the waiting room said, "The other John who stood up when you did told us that his wife's name was Teresa also."

Can you imagine? What are the odds? The nurse was embarrassed and apologetic. When I was called into the recovery room for my wife 10 minutes later the nurses were still laughing about this. I have shared this story with many people and enjoyed laughing together each time.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine completed a heart study and presented their results to the American College of Cardiology. They discovered a direct link between laughter and having a healthy heart. Researchers found that laughing increased blood flow by 20 percent and stress decreased blood flow by 35 percent. Laughing makes the endothelium (which is the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels) expand which allows more blood to flow thru your arteries. By keeping blood flowing at a greater rate, laughter can help prevent diseases such as hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and even heart attacks and strokes.

Isn't that amazing? Who knew that laughter is the best heart medicine? In the Bible, King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 17:22, "A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick." Research in the 21st century confirmed what Solomon wrote 3,000 years ago.

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I love the Bible. It is full of such practical life and leadership wisdom.

The same research team in 2001 looked at 150 men and women who had heart disease and compared their reactions to difficult and embarrassing situations with 150 men and women who had no heart problems. They found that people with heart disease were more likely to react to stressful situations with anger or hostility and less likely to use humor to overcome their embarrassment. They were also less likely to laugh in positive situations and reported a reduced ability to laugh in general.

These findings led the researchers to believe that laughing may protect the heart. Perhaps a willingness to laugh at life's woes could help reduce a person's risk of heart disease? In conclusion, Dr. Miller said, "The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be - exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day."

I had a colonoscopy this spring, so as we left the clinic we told the staff we would see them in 10 years when we come in for a couple's colonoscopy. God bless you. Enjoy large doses of laughter this week. See you next Sunday!

Hauser is the founding and senior pastor at Prairie Heights Community Church in Fargo-Moorhead and can be reached at www.jonhauser.com

Related Topics: FAITH
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