Laughter really is good for your soul

August 05, 2017

New Life Baptist Church minister Jono Schroder. Photo by Luke Hemer.

ANXIETY is a growing phenomenon in Australia today.

Studies from a decade ago showed 14 per cent of the population then were struggling with regular episodes of this condition, and one may suppose the figure has only escalated (2007 ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing).

Mental health has become a serious issue for a lot of Australians.

Seemingly, there isn’t a sector that could claim immunity from this battle either; rather the opposite could be true.

Maybe the higher the position, the higher the potential for stress levels?

Nowadays we are seeing AFL players regularly opt out of games, citing mental health reasons.

Former Kangaroo’s footballer, Nathan Thompson, was probably one of the pioneers in this regard, going public with his struggle way back in 2004.

Thompson however, stated recently that his battle continues, it’s a struggle that has flowed into the present day. It hasn’t disappeared.

Since his brave admission, many AFL players have followed suit, and grown the courage to name their own internal struggles.

Some coming forward are headline players, the cream of the crop if you like. Consequently, it’s worth noting, these are not vulnerable community members struggling with resources or opportunities.

No, rather these are popular, successful, wealthy people, in the thick of elite sporting careers, with the ‘world at their feet’.

Their feet, however, are stalled by an apparent fragility, in their minds.

These people do not have broken arms or legs, but struggles that inhibit nonetheless.

One of the perceived challenges in dealing with mental health is the lack of visibility for those looking on.

For the most part, family members aren’t exactly sure how to respond, many of us are still beginners in our understanding of it.

Unlike a bodily injury that’s visible and easily detected, a mental health struggle is much harder to objectify.

But to the person suffering, the ‘injury’ is still very real.

It might surprise many readers the God of the Bible gets deep satisfaction from seeing people have a good laugh.

Scripture informs; “A merry heart does good, like a medicine” (Proverbs 17).

One of the core qualities of those who operate in close relationship with God is a joyful spirit.

Apparently, Godly people are capable of freely rejoicing, savouring all of life’s delights.

Sure, there are plenty of scenarios happening around the globe today that are no laughing matter.

That fact remains.

There’s a lot going down that ought to concern all of us deeply.

But to the stressed out, task-focused person who is busily trying to achieve more, racing out the door at first light (or before), God gives the simple yet profound gift this morning, that of a kookaburra, engaging in a high-quality laugh.

Sure, laughing may not be a magic fix to every mental health struggle, but it may well help, be medicinal even.

Enjoy your day.

Jonathon Schroder

New Life Baptist Church

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