“A joyful heart is good medicine, / But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” --Proverbs 17:22 (NASB)

It’s another typical day in the greenhouse. At least it’s a new “typical” since everyone is busy social distancing at their tasks six or more feet apart. Geraniums are being plucked and coleuses are being planted. Baskets are being watered and pots are being filled with dirt. The mood is light, though. “Hey,” I say, “What’s the most groundbreaking invention of all time?” There’s an audible groan as someone says, “uh, what…?” “The shovel!” There are more groans and laughter rolls through the air. I follow it up with, “I called the doctor and said, ‘My wife is going into labor! What should I do?’ ‘Is this her first child?’ he asked. ‘No, this is her husband.’” More groans. More laughter.

I love jokes. Jokes make us laugh and laughter can really brighten everyone’s day. It’s infectious. When we laugh, endorphins are released in our brains that do all sorts of warm fuzzies for our bodies (yes, I know there’s a much more precise physiological response of our opiate receptors…). Laughter often gives us the strength and determination we need to keep going.

I love hearing jokes or reading them. I love telling them. Some I find offensive and some I know others would find offensive. I try to be sensitive of who I’m sharing certain jokes with and when I’m offended by a joke, I just move on to the next one. Not everyone finds the same things humorous. It’s just like we can’t all enjoy the same flavors of ice cream, right? How boring would that be? (This reminds me: the other day I was at the ice cream parlor and couldn’t decide what to order, so they gave me a waffle cone. Haha.)

Sometimes accidents happen or someone says something outrageous while we’re working. How do we respond? Perhaps a basket slips or a petunia stem breaks or a cart tips over and that’s when someone just HAS to say “inconceivable!” (thank you Vizzini from The Princess Bride) and we laugh, clean up, and everything is ok again.

Bringing cheer to others—especially now—can make an immense difference. If you can’t tell them in person, send them a text to let them know you’re still thinking of them. It takes more time but it means so much more to them. It’s easy for us to post our “status update” and wait for people to respond. However, tailoring the message directly to another person has more community benefits. As we communicate with each other personally, anyone part of the conversation is releasing “happy” chemicals such as dopamine which make everyone feel better. Even if it’s a short message, it will be more appreciated because that person will know that you thought particularly of them when you reached out. Try texting them “Earth” (It means the world to me).

Set a goal to get one person to laugh today. You can never tell how much healing it will bring.

Have a fabulous week!

Jake (jmertins@ebertsgreenhouse.com)

(Credit for the jokes: the internet—various places such as the Dad Jokes group I’m part of on FaceBook.)