A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
–Proverbs 17:22

There is a time for everything . . . a time to laugh . . .
–Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Laughter is the best medicine for a long and happy life. He who laughs lasts!
–Wilferd Peterson

Dear Munchkins,
This bit of advice is something that I don’t really need to give you, but I’m going to give it to you anyway. None of you have any trouble laughing, which is one of your more endearing qualities. In fact, there are times I can’t get you to stop laughing, which I find really irritating.

I’m happy that you enjoy a good laugh, though, I really am. I’m old enough to remember reading Reader’s Digest as a kid, and they had a section called, Laughter is the Best Medicine, where they told jokes. Laughter really is the best medicine in life—God help us all if we don’t laugh as we go through life. So, I’m really happy you laugh as often as you do.

The reason I’m giving you advice to laugh a lot is that life has a way of knocking all the laughter out of us. I’m not trying to be an Eeyore here, I’m simply saying that on this side of heaven things are often difficult and painful, and, if we’re not careful, we stop laughing along the way. Don’t let life do that to you.

Even in the midst of the most painful times and most embarrassing failures, I want you to laugh. I’m not asking you to detach from reality by laughing when things aren’t funny, simply to try to find the humorous in situations no matter how dire or dark they may be. As Laura Ingalls Wilder put it, “A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.” Comedian Bob Hope put it this way: “I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”

A related piece of advice I have for you is that I want you to learn to laugh at yourself. You’ve gotten on me at times because I laughed at some of the silly things you’ve done or said. And, turncoat that you are, you’ve told your parents “Pop was mean to me” when they come to pick you up just because I laughed about something that came out of you that day. Nevertheless, I want you to be able to laugh at the fact that you’re a big honking mess as a human being like the rest of us and not get defensive about it.

All that to say I want you to be able to laugh at yourself—your mistakes, defects, irrational points of view, bad habits (like picking your nose) . . . you know, everything about you that makes you an imperfect human being. Don’t ever take yourself so seriously that you don’t laugh at the fact that your just like the rest of us . . . anything but perfect. You often say and do some pretty funny things, and I hope you will be more okay with that as your life unfolds.

For example, it was reported to me recently that one of you held up seven fingers and proceeded to say, “This is seven. When you take away two, it’s five. When you take away five, it’s two. It’s kind of hard to explain.” That’s hilarious. Out of the mouth of babes comes the funniest stuff on the planet, and we all thank you for that.

So, every day, take time to laugh at yourself, not in a denigrating, “I’m a stupid idiot” manner but in a “Ain’t I human like everyone else” manner. Martin Niemoller said, “If you can laugh at yourself, you are going to be fine. If you allow others to laugh with you, you will be great.” He’s right. Rick Warren agrees, saying, “We take ourselves way too seriously, and we don’t take God seriously enough. It is not by accident that humor and humility come from the same root word. If you can laugh at yourself, you’ll always have plenty of good material.”

Finally, I want you to associate with people who have a good sense of humor. Try not to be around too many sour/dour/humorless folks—all they’re going to do is bring you down. Pop has been blessed over the years to be friends with people who make him laugh, something that always left my soul refreshed. I’ve laughed so hard at what friends have said and done that it made my stomach hurt, and I will never be able to thank them enough.

Munchkins, you’re funny and have a great sense of humor. Please make sure you hang on to that. Frankly, you’re not all that good at laughing at yourself yet, so keep working on that as well. The next time Pop laughs at something you do, cut me some slack that I’m laughing with you, not at you. That way you won’t turn me in to your parents for being mean when they come over to the house to pick you up.

I agree with Charles Swindoll when he said, “Of all the things God created, I am often most grateful He created laughter.” Can you imagine life without it? I can’t. Laugh every day, even about painful things. Laugh at yourself without putting yourself down. Laugh with others, not at them. Look for things to laugh about.

Laugh . . . a lot.
Love,
Pop

P.S. Don’t let your parents talk you out of laughing at my “Dad jokes.” I think I’ve got a heck of a sense of humor, but your parents don’t. They’re wrong (and stupid). I’m going to tell lot of “Dad jokes” when I’m around you (you can call them “Pop jokes”), and I want you to laugh out loud so your parents stop being mean to Pop.