Put joy into your days

What does it take to make you laugh?

Somehow it's much easier to be amused by another person's predicament than our own, isn't it?  

Think about it. Did you laugh ...  

Blog. Woman smiling.  7.19At that meeting where you went on and on about a favorite topic and everyone clapped, but then someone brought up points that destroyed your argument?

Or the time someone left a red sock in the washer and turned your load of whites Pepto-Bismal pink?

Or that Parent-Teacher Night when your child's teacher said with a knowing smile, "Oh, I've heard so much about you."

Did you laugh? Probably not.

Neither did I, but I wish I had.

How one woman found the better way

My long-ago friend, Marge, had an easy laugh and an unflappable spirit. Even her irrepressible young son's antics didn't faze her. 

I remember the rainy morning I dropped by for coffee and we sat around her kitchen table. "Jimmy" came running in, grabbed a towel and soon reappeared with their very wet family cat wrapped in the towel, then headed toward the laundry room.

Marge and I went on sipping and chatting.

A few minutes later we heard a lot of thumping and bumping coming from the direction of the laundry room. Marge jumped up and went to investigate. I followed, a few steps behind.

Six-year-old Jimmy stood in front of the gas clothes dryer with his arms folded across his chest and kept chanting, "There's no cat in here, Mommy, there's no cat in here. Honest!"

Marge barely managed to suppress her laughter--and so did I  

She shut off the dryer and rescued the cat, then sternly ordered Jimmy to his room. Once he was out of earshot, we collapsed into laughter.

After awhile Marge put down the still rather dazed Kitty and poured it a bowl of milk.  

After she refilled our coffee mugs I asked her secret to remaining calm no matter what. She thought a minute, then said, "I used to get easily upset, but I learned to ask myself, 'Will it matter in a hundred years?' If not I make myself laugh and simply deal with what is.

"I decided a long time ago that life is too short to waste it blowing up over trifles."

"Make myself laugh"

That day I discovered yes, it's a matter of our temperament, but it's also--and perhaps most of all--a matter of will.

Marge taught herself to find the laughter in everyday frustrations.

My friend role-modeled the woman, the kind of mom, I wanted to become, one who looked for--and found--at least a bit of joy in every situation. Now I understood why my mood improved whenever I spent time with her. 

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.   Proverbs 15:13

Laughter is catching, but so is the opposite 

Our attitudes show up most clearly at home. One happy spouse usually means two happy spouses. Parents who laugh a lot have children who laugh a lot.

Conversely, one family member's lousy mood can spread to the rest of the family than any 24-hour stomach bug. In no time at all everybody is cranky and complaining.

Few of us would answer the phone or show up at work with that attitude. Instead, we'd breathe deep and dredge up smiles. From somewhere.

Don't we owe the same to the ones we love?

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.   Proverbs 12:18

The value of laughter for our health    

Counselors say the ability to laugh at ourselves is a major factor in keeping us emotionally balanced. Medical people tell us laughter also benefits our physical health and even revs up our immune system.

Since laughter is good for us, why do so many of us routinely choose to wear a frown or a sober expression?  

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.   Proverbs 17:22

Let's get rid of that tired old habit

It will take some resolve to change, but we can do it. If we need more incentive, how about this? The experts tell us that smiling and laughing will pay off in fewer wrinkles because it takes 37 muscles to frown and only 12 to smile.

And wouldn't it brighten every day if we adopted a more relaxed attitude toward life and our individual situation?

It's obvious our Creator endowed human beings with the capacity to smile and laugh. Nobody ever has to teach a baby how to laugh.

You and I possess that same natural potential for finding humor in small things and everyday happenings. Let's cultivate that gift and let it add sparkle to our days.

I'm in. How about you? 

Learning along with you,


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