However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. – Ecclesiastes 11:8 (NIV)
I was a fun-loving child. I created ridiculous skits to make others laugh, played impractical jokes and looked for ways to make everything I did fun. Once I put salt in the sugar bowl and sugar in the salt shaker, then crouched under the table to enjoy the reaction of my unsuspecting victim – which happened to be my mother, and her reaction was enough to convince me not to do that again!
I even found ways to make church fun – for me, anyway. I attended a Catholic grade school, and we started the day with Mass every morning. We first graders sat right up front, close to the statue of Mary. The statue, I thought, made a great target for my best friend’s mittens. After a couple mitten-tossing episodes, Sister Bertrille, my teacher, decided it would be better if I sat beside her. But when eyes were closed and heads were bent in prayer, I’d reach under the pew and pull off the shoes of the person kneeling in front of me. Back then, paddling was acceptable, and I made many trips to the supply room, where such discipline was administered. For me the fun and laughter were worth the risk of a sore bottom.
Although my way of finding fun was often impractical and annoying, I inherently knew the secret to surviving life: Find the fun in everything. A healthy sense of humor is life’s best shock absorber.
This is the third secret to aging with grace: Finding joy in every day, in every circumstance. Joy is a choice.
Studies have shown that healthy laughter affects our bodies in positive ways: It stimulates the “feel good” chemicals in our brains, burns calories, gives our faces a healthy glow (from the increased blood flow), reduces symptoms of stress, boosts our immune system, increases the oxygen flowing through our systems, helps to keep glucose levels in check, reduces clotting and inflammation in the blood vessels, increases our tolerance for pain and, with all the muscles engaged when we laugh, acts as good exercise. Convalescing patients who watch funny movies or shows, such as “The Three Stooges” or “I Love Lucy,” and spend time engaging in good, belly-shaking, tear-producing laughter, recuperate more quickly than those who do not.
The Bible tells us that “a cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22), “a happy heart makes the face cheerful (Proverbs 15:13), and “the cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15).
So choose joy. Choose to think positive thoughts, to say encouraging words, to laugh instead of get angry. Choose to look for fun.
Go ahead--tickle your funny bone!
“There are souls in this world which have the gift of finding joy everywhere and leaving it behind them when they go” (Frederick Faber). Lord, may I be such a soul! Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Philippians 4:4-9
Join me at the Seasons of Life Christian Women’s Conference at the Punxsutawney First Church of God on Oct.16, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tickets, which are $20, include lunch and must be purchased by Oct. 11. Benefits Punxsutawney Christian School. For tickets, call PCS at 814-938-2295 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org For more information, visit the conference blog at http://seasonsoflifecwc.blogspot.com