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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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The Medical Benefits of Laughter

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Dr. Patrick Dixon MA, MBBS, is an English physician, business consultant and futurist internationally respected for his creative research and analysis.  In 2005 he was ranked as one of the 20 most influential business thinkers alive according to the Thinkers 50 (a private survey printed in The UK Times).  His Global Change website has had over 12 million different visitors. Dixon has written fourteen books covering a wide range of issues and trends including risk management, digital society, geopolitics, consumer shifts, health care, biotechnology, social issues, politics and business ethics. Futurewise, first published in 1998, uses the word FUTURE as a mnemonic standing for “Six Faces of the Future” which will impact every large business: Fast, Urban, Tribal, Universal, Radical and Ethical.

Dr. Dixon  has made a stunning diagnosis of the medical benefits of laughter.  Out of five million medical research papers published around the world since the mid-1960s, Dr. Dixon discovered  hundred of papers analyzing the phenomenon of laughter.  The first thing Dr. Dixon noted is that some people hardly seem to laugh at all.  Everything is taken seriously.  Such people, notes Dr. Dixon, are hard to live with and often have a tendency to be morose or depressed.  Someone who can never laugh is as emotionally imprisoned as someone who can never cry.  Doctors and nurses, commented Dr. Dixon, are now realizing that laughter is a powerful way to reduce tension and stress, creating a sense of well-being, increasing contentment and alertness, helping us place the problems and difficulties of life in context.

Medical research has discovered remarkable impacts on our hormonal levels, in response to laughter.  Laughter has been shown to shut down the “stress” hormones like cortisol, dopamine, adrenaline, and growth hormone, keeping them at lower healthier levels.  Such hormones are released when we are tense, working hard, worried, or afraid.  It is all part of the fight or flight reaction built into all of us, enabling us to either overcome an attacker or dash away to safety.  In our modern business culture, however, all the “stress hormones” are released, but no exercise follows and the body suffers.  Consequently, says Dr. Dixon, we develop stomach ulcers, our arteries clog up, we become irritable and develop many other symptoms – all because our bodies are pumping out hormones that we don’t need.

Laughter is remarkably selective in what it shuts down.  In the  Journal of the American Medical Association #267, Dr. W. Fry notes that the endorphin protein, a natural morphine-like substance in our bodies, seems to remain constant in laughter, even as the stress hormones are being shut down.  Virtually all of us learn to laugh at four months of age, something which requires the action of fifteen facial muscles and changes in breathing.  When we laugh, at first the heart rate increases as does our rate of breathing.  After our laughter ceases, there is a period of relaxation, easing muscle tension and useful in breaking the muscle spasm in some neuralgias and rheumatism.  It has been estimated that 100 good laughs are equivalent to 10 minutes of rowing.  Dr. James Walsh, in his book Laughter & Health, described laughter as a massaging of all the organs within the body.  Cumulative laughter throughout the day, says Dr. Fry, may be significantly greater than that of an average marathon.  He describes laughter physiologically as an aerobic experience, an internal stationary jogging!

Laughter, comments Dr. Dixon, also aids lung ventilation, helping people with chest problems to clear congestion.  Research by Dr. McClelland, Dillan & Baker shows that laughter significantly increased levels of salivary immunoglobin A, a vital immune system protein which protects us against respiratory illnesses.  Dr. W. Fry at the 4th International Conference on Humour in Israel noted that laughter improves alertness, memory, learning, & creativity by releasing catecholamines into our body.  Laughter also has a measurable impact on reducing high blood pressure.

Why are we often attracted to others with a good sense of humour?  Because we seem to intuitively know that the ability to see the absurd, the ridiculous and the entertaining in the serious and trivial helps keep us mentally stable and healthy.  Somehow the burdens of overwork, excess responsibility, and the grief of life can fall off our shoulders, as laughter lightens our hearts.  Dr Patrick Dixon reminds us that laughter is not a frill, but a medical essential. Perhaps that is why the old proverb reminds us that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.

My prayer from Psalm 126 for those reading this article is that our mouths may be filled with laughter and our tongues with songs of joy. May the Joy of the Lord be our strength.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Mayor William Howland of Toronto the Good

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Why is Toronto, Ontario, sometimes called Toronto the Good?

It goes back to Mayor William Howland of Toronto*, a public servant who was so dedicated to helping the disadvantaged that he gave away most of his wealth.  Son of the Honorable W.P. Howland, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, William was possessed with a bubbly enthusiasm and phenomenal capacity for hard work.

By the age he was 25, William was president, vice-president, or a director of more than a dozen companies in the fields of insurance and finance, electrical services, and paint manufacturing.  When he became president of the Queen City Fire Insurance Company in 1871, he was the youngest insurance company president in Canada.  As well, Howland was President of three influential organizations: the Toronto Board of Trade, the Dominion Board of Trade, and the Manufacturer’s Association of Ontario.  Out of his love for his country, he served as Chairman of the Canada First movement, personally financing its weekly newspaper ‘The Nation’.

At age 32, Howland was led to Christ by his priest, Dr. W.S. Rainsford of St. James Anglican Cathedral.  His life-changing experience gave him a new passion for helping the poor.  He became involved  helping with the Hillcrest Convalescent Hospital, the YMCA, the Haven Home for Unwed Mothers, the Prisoner’s Aid Association, the Central Prison Mission School, and the Toronto General Hospital.  Night after night, Howland visited the slums, going from house-to-house, and reaching out to the poor, the sick, and the alcoholic.  He also purchased 50 acres to start an Industrial School in order to steer youth away from the life of crime.  Other initiatives were his building an alternative school for drop-outs, and a Home for the Aged and Homeless Poor. When he began to teach an interdenominational bible study for 100 young men, his new priest J.P. Lewis objected to Howland’s involvement with non-Anglicans.  Out of this rejection, he began the interdenominational Toronto Mission Union, which operated seniors’ homes, convalescent homes, and Toronto’s first-ever home nursing service.

Because of his great compassion for the poor, he was elected as Mayor of Toronto in 1885, with a strong mandate to clean up the city.  Howland signaled his arrival in the mayor’s office by installing a twelve-foot banner on the wall, reading, “Except the Lord Build the City, the Watchman Wakes but in Vain”. Despite fierce opposition, Howland was so successful, that Toronto became nicknamed ‘Toronto the Good’.  As champion of the poor, Howland and his Alliance friend, Rev. John Salmon, would tramp the lanes and alleys, feeding the poor, praying over the sick, and comforting the sad.  With a population of just 104,000, Toronto had over 800 licensed and unlicensed saloons.  Over half of all criminal offenses recorded in 1885 were related to drunkenness.

Howland is described in Desmond Morton’s book Mayor Howland: the Citizen’s Candidate as the first reform mayor in Toronto’s history.  Due to bureaucratic corruption, municipal garbage collection was all but non-existent.  Even City Hall’s own garbage was rarely picked up.  Rotting garbage fouled the alleyways, yards, and streets, giving Toronto a reputation for flies, stench, and disease.  With no general sewage system, Toronto lived on the verge of a typhoid epidemic.  Children swam in the same Toronto harbour area into which raw sewage was flowing from the ditches. Toronto’s fresh water supply was sucked through leaking and rotting wooden pipes, half buried in the sewage and sludge of the Toronto harbour.

Howland believed that we didn’t usually need more laws; we just needed to enforce the ones that already existed.  He shocked the city bureaucrats by enforcing the already existing bylaw which forbid the depositing of garbage within the city limits.  After he threatened to send the city commissioner to jail for breaking this bylaw, garbage miraculously began to be collected!  Howland also worked hard in the construction of a trunk sewer system, to redirect the sewage away from the Toronto Harbour.  He had such a dramatic impact in reducing the crime rate that other mayors began visiting Toronto, hoping to imitate Howland’s miracle.

During his re-election campaign in 1887, all the taxi cabs were paid off by Howland’s opponent so that they would refuse to take Howland’s supporters to the polling stations.  Women however (2,000 widows and single women with property) had just been given the vote.  So they held up their long Victorian dresses, and trucked through the snow to give Howland the moral reformer a second term.  When Howland was re-elected by a landslide, over 3,000 of his supporters at the YMCA hall spontaneously burst into singing ‘Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.’

After he unexpectedly stepped down as Mayor after two terms, Howland became the founding President of the Christian Alliance (which later took the name C&MA: Christian and Missionary Alliance).  The unique interdenominational nature of the early C&MA allowed Howland to be its president, while still remaining an Anglican.  When he died unexpectedly at age 49, his funeral involved Anglican, Alliance, and Presbyterian clergy.  With more than a thousand mourners on foot from all social classes, it was the largest funeral procession that had ever been held in Toronto.  A poem published in the Toronto Globe said of Howland:

And not Toronto mourns alone; All Canada his fame had heard; His name is dear, a household word, And far and wide, his worth was known.

May William H. Howland continue to be a living symbol of the difference that just one Canadian can make.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

 -previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

* My Torontonian interest stems from being the great-great grandson of Thomas Allen who served as Toronto Alderman  for 19 years during the late 19th Century.

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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AB Simpson: An Unsung Hero

by the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

A.B. Simpson is an unsung  hero who has had a remarkable lasting impact on millions of families not only in Canada, but throughout the world.  Simpson was a man of vision.  He once said that people “must always dream dreams before they blaze new trails and see visions before they are strong to do exploits.”

 

Albert Benjamin Simpson was born on Prince Edward Island on December 15th, 1843 of Scottish Covenanter heritage.  The Simpson family had emigrated from MorayShire, Scotland to Bayview, P.E.I.  After the collapse of his father’s shipbuilding & export business in the 1840’s depression, his family moved to a farm in western Ontario.  Rev. John Geddie, on his way to the South Sea Islands as Canada’s first missionary, baptized baby Albert and in prayer committed him to future missionary service.

Fresh out of seminary in 1865, Simpson had accepted the call to pastor Knox Church in Hamilton, a congregation with the second largest Presbyterian church building in Canada. Over the next eight years, 750 new people joined the congregation.  Dr. William McMullen, another Presbyterian minister, said that Simpson “stood out at that time as one of the most brilliant young ministers of our church in Canada…”

Out of the blue, Simpson was called to lead a Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  The recently ended Civil war left bitterness and division between the various churches.  As a neutral Canadian pastor, Simpson was used to bring racial reconciliation and forgiveness among the churches. At Simpson’s encouragement, the pastors went to their knees and poured out their hearts for such a baptism of love as would sweep away their differences.  From reconciliation among the clergy came two months of continuous nightly gatherings across the denominations.  As the pastors joined their hands together in unity, over 10,000 local residents joined them in prayer meetings lasting for a year.

Simpson’s success led him to being invited to lead 13th Street Presbyterian Church, a prestigious New York congregation.  Simpson loved to reach out to those who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable in a traditional church setting.  When 100 Italian immigrants responded to Simpson’s message, he asked his church Board to admit them as new members.  His Board “kindly but firmly refused”, for fear of being overwhelmed by immigrants and poor people.  Out of that rejection came Simpson’s vision of a fellowship of Christians where everyone was welcome, regardless of race, income, denomination, or social class.

Simpson decided to abandon his security and reputation, in order to start a community where all were welcome in Christ.  He began afresh with just seven other people, in a poorly heated dance hall.  But Simpson had recently discovered an inner strength  and resilience that kept him from slipping into discouragement.  In the past he had been such a workaholic that he had destroyed his health.  Simpson’s medical doctor had given him 3 months to live.  But upon meeting an Episcopalian (Anglican) physician, Dr. Charles Cullis,  at Old Orchard Camp in Maine, he experienced a remarkable healing of his heart.  The next day, Simpson was able to climb a 3,000 foot mountain, and successfully pray for his daughter Margaret’s healing from diphtheria- the very disease which had earlier killed his son Melville.

Word spread fast in 1881 of these healings.  He was besieged by many with pleas for help.  By others, he was vilified and ridiculed as another quack miracle worker.  Despite such criticism, Simpson received strong support from medical doctors like Dr. Jenny Trout, the first female doctor & surgeon in Canada, Dr. Robert Glover from Toronto,  and Dr. Lilian Yeomans, a Canadian-born surgeon in Michigan.  He also received much encouragement from well-known Canadian Anglican priests like Dr. Henry Wilson, & Dr. W.S. Rainford. Simpson started Friday-afternoon healing & holiness meetings, which quickly became New York’s largest attended spiritual weekday meeting, with 500-1,000 in attendance.

Simpson had a real love for the whole Christian community, regardless of denomination or nationality.  He said: “I want to enjoy the broadest fellowship possible myself, and I want my people to receive the benefit of the ministry of all God’s gifted servants, regardless of whether they agree with me in everything or not.”  Many of Simpson’s strongest supporters were Canadians, like William Fenton, Albert Thompson, & E.D. Whiteside, who had been remarkably healed from diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, and epilepsy.

Canadian-born Dr. Henry Wilson was first healed through Simpson’s prayers, and then received permission from his bishop to become A.B. Simpson’s associate pastor!  He was even allowed by his bishop to erect an altar at the Gospel Tabernacle, and conduct an Anglican service of Holy Communion each Sunday morning. In a show of interdenominational unity, Dr. Simpson the (C&MA) Alliance pastor would preach and Dr. Wilson the Anglican priest would serve communion.  Another Anglican priest, Dr. Kenneth Mackenzie, actively participated in Alliance Conventions, taught at the  Alliance Missionary Training Institute, and contributed articles to the Alliance magazine.  Simpson publicly stated that he would prefer to have Dr. Mackenzie’s presence and teaching as an Anglican clergyman than as an Alliance worker.  A.B. Simpson had a passion for interdenominational Christian Unity and Missions that is only now beginning to be appreciated by other churches.

I thank God for heroes like Albert Benjamin Simpson, who have helped tear down the walls of misunderstanding, bitterness, and mistrust between the churches.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-bestselling author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News and the Light Magazine/City Light News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

 -Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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My Will Be Done…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

The only thing worse than not getting your own way is actually getting it! Being both successful and miserable is one of life’s worst curses. You may remember the famous song “I Did It My Way”. There is something inside all of us that wants to do things our own way, that doesn’t like to be controlled by others. But getting my own way too often usually means winning the battle but losing the war, winning the argument but losing the intimacy, winning the contract but losing the friendship. It is legendary how many good business friendships have been sacrificed on the altar of corporate success.

All of us need close friendships, but too often our task orientation leaves us feeling detached. All of us, if married, need intimacy and vulnerability in our marriages, but our desire to “have our own space” can leave us feeling very empty and alone. All of us, if parents, want joyful, open relationships with our children, but our fear to “loosen the reins a bit” when appropriate can often drive them far away. All of us want closeness and caring in our relationships, but our need to do it our way so often leaves us in the H.A.L.T. position (H.A.L.T. – hungry, angry, lonely or tired). At such times, we are particularly vulnerable to discouragement, to wondering what it’s all about. We may be saying to ourselves, “why beat myself to be successful and accomplish all these objectives if there is no one to share it with at a really intimate, caring level?” At such a point we realize in the words of the old 1960’s song that “Freedom Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose.”

Conference speaker Patrick Tomter said a while ago that our fundamental enemy is fear (fear of losing control). This is why we tend to say “My will be done” instead of the alternative “Thy will be done”.

Tomter believes that our mission in such situations is to identify the enemy (fear) and learn to embrace it, so that it becomes a tool for our growth. Embracing fear means to stop running from our fears and start accepting fear as part of ourselves. True friendships emerge when we finally accept the other just as they are, without preconditions or stipulations. To surrender our need for our own way is to finally stop, see and hear the other person for who they really are. There is no greater gift than to be truly listened to by someone who truly accepts and cares for you. That is why people have always been so attracted to Jesus, even if they couldn’t stand the church. They have sensed that here is a friend who truly understands, truly listens, and truly cares. Friendship is about giving our heart away to another. Friendship is about the willingness to not have our own way. Friendship is about being vulnerable enough to even let the one we love, hurt us without striking back.

That is what the world’s most famous individual did as he hung on an executioner’s cross in unspeakable agony and simultaneously said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” If you feel led to pray the Lord’s prayer this week, remember that to pray “Thy will be done” is both the death of the need to get your own way and the birth of a new level of friendship. Friendship in life is our deepest need: Friendship with others, and with Jesus the Source of life.

My prayer is that those reading this article may experience a new depth and reality to their friendships in the days ahead.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca