Proverbs 17:22 is one of my favorite Bible verses. We even put it on every receipt that leaves our pharmacy! It says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” At first glance, that may seem a little counterintuitive for a pharmacy to have that on their receipt. After all, we do have to sell medicine to make a living, but medicine can come in more than just a pill! Having a joyful heart affects not just your mental health, but your physical health as well. How?
1. Immune system booster. A study exposed 300 healthy volunteers to the common cold through nasal drops. The least happy people were almost three times more likely to contract the virus compared to their happier counterparts.
2. Reduces stress and its effects. Stress increases the amount of the hormone cortisol which can lead to weight gain, sleep disturbances, and heart disease. Studies have demonstrated that happy people tend to produce lower levels of cortisol in response to stressful situations.
3. Keeps your heart healthy. A number of studies have shown that being happy is associated with a 13- 26% lower risk of heart disease.
4. Leads to better pain tolerance. It is well known that low expectations of impending pain can actually lower a person’s perception of it. One study found that positive expectations produced about a 28% decrease in pain ratings. That’s about equal to a shot of morphine!
5. May lengthen your life expectancy. A long-term study followed 32,000 people over 30 years and found that the risk of death was 14% higher in unhappy people compared to their happier counterparts.
Sometimes it takes effort to have a positive outlook, but it all starts with a smile. A University of Kentucky study found that smiling – even fake smiling – reduces heart rate and blood pressure during stressful situations. A few other practices shown to increase positivity and happiness include expressing gratitude, increasing your physical activity, getting a good night’s rest, spending time outside, and spending time in prayer. Luke 2:10-11 says, “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Did you catch that? The angel brought good news of great joy to the shepherds watching over their flock the night Jesus was born. While happiness is of the moment, joy is unwavering through the ups and downs of life. Jesus desired for all to experience His joy, so much so that He embraced the greatest anguish. Even the night before his crucifixion, He prayed to God in John 17:13, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” I hope this article finds you filled with joy – the best medicine I could give someone.
-Joseph Feick, Pharm.D
Owner, Double Oak Mountain Pharmacy & Compounding
Greystone Centre, Highway 280