Laugh a Lot!

Mark Twain once said, “Be careful of reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

I loved to hear my mom chortle. Maybe because it meant she would be more amiable to my requests, or perhaps because she laughed so well. I could always tell when she was talking on the phone to her friend Bonnie because the sounds of Mom’s laughter would skip down the halls of our home and fill the air with joy. Many times as a kid I would hear her laughter from another room, even through I had no idea what was so funny, I would laugh too. It just seemed that when Mom laughed, the day was brighter and my heart was lighter.

Laughter is not only positive but also powerful. Along with being a magnet that draws others in, it serves as medication for our interior lives. That cancer wards incorporate laugh clinics into hospitals ought to tell us a great deal. Our shared laughter makes even enemies friends, if only for a moment. Our world could use a good dose of friendly!

What did you last laugh about?

Calm

I’m drawn to calm people. Not vacant, like the light is on but nobody’s home. Not arrogant, as if they’re holding tight to the reins of control. I’m drawn, instead, to those who exude “settledness,” a centeredness. Their insides aren’t churning. Their tongues aren’t wagging. They aren’t fretting, stewing, or clamoring. They are functioning in their gifts and aren’t threatened by yours. They are anchored in Christ, and the sea within them is still. I find that kind of steadiness compelling.

Calm isn’t innately who I am. My insides have always been skittish, which I’m sure is why I’m drawn to soft music, gentle rain and quiet spaces. I need the soothing influence they offer.

Some time ago, a friend who hadn’t seen me for a couple of years commented that I was much quieter on my insides than she had known me to be in the past. “That’s the only way I know how to say what I’m feeling and experiencing, Patsy”, she said sweetly after a lengthy visit.

I remember being so heartened by her assessment because I felt God was confirming the work He was doing in me. Like sparks from a flint when they catch soft kindling, the flame of Christ’s prescence and the work of His Spirit were being seen in my life. I was thrilled.

Do others see a calm spirit in you?

Full Heart: Part 3

I mentioned in the first blog on our tangled emotions that gratitude is important…and I would like to underline that statement. It has been proven by hospital studies that Gratitude heals. And if that’s not enough it sweetens relationships, because nothing is more winsome than to be with someone with a grateful interior. Grateful people are more attractive, more fun, more sought out, and speak in ways that lift our hearts. And they are the best at receiving gifts…their enthusiasm often ignites ours.

I recently invested in two chalkboards for my home as a way to remind myself to keep bright thoughts and an applauding heart, because I need to be spurred on. On the boards I post reasons to be thankful, as well as rotating those with joyful Scripture verses, and quotes worthy of my consideration.

For one week I posted “Joyful Noises,” which included; laughter, church bells, singing, bird songs, my doorbell, a friend’s voice, children playing, whispers of the Holy Spirit, etc. What sounds in your life circle bless you?

For fun and motivation I post quotes like, “Never eat more than you can lift.” Miss Piggy also, “For peace of mind we need to resign as General Manager of the universe!” Anon. and “Life is too short to sleep on low thread-count sheets.” Leah Stussy

What about this one by James Michener, “I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” Or Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

I can forget how significant words can be inside a human heart. I adore my husband of 48 + years…but sometimes my words and tone do not sound as if I do. So any inspiration that keeps me conveying my thankfulness is a good thing.

Les and I find at this stage of our aging-aching lives gratitude must be purposed and practiced lest we slip into a ground-swell of grumbling.

Join me in improving our health, our relationships, and our gratitude quotient. Let’s lift our countenance and sweeten our conversations by setting our thoughts on the good, the true, and the lovely things God has given us fresh from his generous hand. Sunsets…sunflowers…scarlet tangers…summer symphonies…

Do you have a gratitude tip? Please share.

Full Heart: Part 2


Wednesday’s are sneaky. Before we know it, it’s mid-week and we are still trying to gain traction. Well, here are 3 ways I have found that add to my sanity in the midst of chaos and help me to stop spinning my wheels. No news flashes…these are things we forget have the power to turn around our attitude, our outlook, and our day.

Singing. It doesn’t matter if we sound like a raucous foghorn, sing anyway. It’s not how we sound it’s what the activity does for our insides. The type of songs we sing matters though. My favorite song use to be “Born to Lose,” which is a good song except it was my life-theme…not so good. So I traded it in for a new song, “I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors sets the captives free…I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me.” (I think its called “River of Life” I’ve been singing it for over 30 years.) Much more life-building. Great tempo and its heart lifting. Singing our heart out is free and it can add zip to our skip! I dare you to try a rousing chorus of Zippity doo dah and just see if you don’t feel better. Go ahead Sing!

Sense of Humor We did not think up laughter…its instinctive. God knew we would need to laugh till we cry and cry till we can laugh again. Singing and laughter are emotional valves that release stress so we don’t implode. And humor helps us not take ourselves and life so seriously. I don’t advocate frivolity, but I certainly applaud hilarity. It’s okay if you are not naturally funny, just rent a funny friend. Or invest in a Ken Davis and Anita Renfroe dvd. Funny is everywhere. Follow Sheila Walsh on Twitter she’ll make you laugh a stitch in your side. Humor lowers blood pressure, improves your blood circulation, and increases your attitude of gratitude. Go ahead Laugh.

Solitude “Be still.” Not easy for some of us. Too much inner clanking. I am learning that when I am at home with myself I will be at peace wherever I go. And that kind of settledness comes in the still moments, so we can carry it into the fray. Christ-centered intimacy protects us in the midst of life’s brutality, prepares us for people encounters (of the strangest kinds), and prevents us from believing this life is all about us. Practice sitting in silence. All electronics off…even music. You will note if you’re like me twirls of thoughts, at first. Gradually we learn to focus on the sweet whisperings of the Holy Spirit. We’ll recognize His voice by the things he says. He will bring our attention to Christ and promote goodwill in our heart toward ourselves and others. Sh-h…Be still.

What is your favorite song to belt out? How long has it been since you laughed until you cried? Have you learned that “still waters” are a friendly place to be?

“Working Our Way Toward a Full-Heart” Part 1

Because I was an agoraphobic for several years and now travel almost weekly encouraging others, many people contact me to help them deal with their tangles of emotions. Here are a few things I share with them. They will seem too simple but trust me they work.

If what you are doing in your life isn’t working, today is a good day to Stop It and try something else. To get in the habit of ineffective behavior is to help yourself stay stuck. So let’s deliberately move on.

Don’t indulge self-pity, which can be our tendency when sad feelings show up at our doorstep. “Why me?” “Why this?” “Why now?” While these are knee-jerk questions we ask ourselves they are not beneficial to dwell on, because they fan the flame of our anger, which fuels sadness.

Instead let’s ask “What have I done in the past that has helped me and what new strategies might I employ to deal with these feelings?” Remember emotions don’t have reasoning skills, they weren’t meant to do our thinking for us. So let’s engage our minds and our will…and here’s one way to begin.

Make a list of three things that you will try-out TODAY to improve the quality of your existence. For instance:

1. Move
Sadness usually sits, so move. You can command your muscles to obey even if your emotions are trying to drag you to yonder chair. Purpose to stay busy in meaningful ways, but don’t try to outrun your stress or you will generate more anxiety. Extremes complicate our plight for balance. Set a sane pace.

2. Love
Do something sweet for someone (keep it simple) with no expectation of recompense. It is good when we get stuck in the muck of ourselves to think of ways to love others…unless you are a incessant people-pleaser then its usually best to reassess your own needs and address them–spread the love to include yourself. You may have spent your energy-wad and instead of sad you are just plain exhausted…in that case, incorporate a nap in your schedule and go to bed earlier.

3. Celebrate
Make a gratitude list & post it where you can see it daily. Gratitude builds internal well-being, aids good mental health, and improves the quality of our inter-action with others. It’s a simple task with great dividends. I post some of my list on a blackboard in my kitchen so I see it many times a day. Here are a few things I celebrate: bird songs, church bells, children’s laughter, sunshine dancing across my wooden floors, breezes that gently rustle the trees, and the voice of a friend.

Hope these help rev up your life-engine this week. There’s nothing like moving forward to revive a droopy spirit. On Wednesday I will consider a few more ways we can add to our cheer and carry on.

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