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Negative emotions can affect your physical well-being. But keeping a smile on your face contributes to emotional and physical health.

Two of the greatest healing forces in the world are available to you at this very moment. They are the healing power of laughter and the restorative strength of joy. A merry heart is your greatest weapon against deadly emotions.

The Bible affirms the healing power of joy when it says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength" (Prov. 17:22, NLT). This scriptural truth suggests that laughter holds as much healing power as medicine. Is it any wonder that those who laugh easily often live longer than those who do not?

When you laugh, powerful endorphins, which act much the same way as morphine, are released in the brain. Endorphins trigger a feeling of well-being throughout your entire body. So you see, a merry heart really does work like medicine!

An enormous amount of research supports this fact. If a person is happy and at peace with himself and his surroundings, he will have significantly fewer serious illnesses than the unhappy person.

In the Department of Behavioral Medicine of the UCLA Medical School, Norman Cousins conducted extensive research into the physical benefits of happiness. He established the Humor Research Task Force that coordinated worldwide clinical research on humor. Cousin's body of research proved conclusively that laughter, happiness and joy are perfect antidotes for stress.

Long ago Isaiah wrote, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You" (Is. 26:3).

A noted doctor once said that the diaphragm, thorax, abdomen, heart, lungs--and even the liver--are given a massage during a hearty laugh. That's a good internal workout!

Instead of watching films or television dramas that drain and depress your spirit, choose something that can put a smile on your face and feed your healthy emotions.

Don Colbert, M.D., is a family physician and nutrition expert. His latest book is I Can Do This Diet (Siloam Press).

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