A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Well, time stands still for no man, and unless God has ordained an extra long day so that He can receive the glory, the days will continue to be 24 hours long and each person in the whole wide world will have the same 24 hours each and every day. So, this fact makes me realise that now I have 1 week less than I had a week ago to prepare for the weddings! Eek! It has come to my realisation that I have 8 weeks till Steven’s wedding and 11 till Caitlin’s, and stress levels are rising just a touch, to say the least.
So last time I talked a bit about laughter... remember? Dictionary.com says: to express mirth, pleasure, derision, or nervousness with an audible, vocal expulsion of air from the lungs... and I told the story of me giggling because of nervousness. Well, today I want to talk a bit about how laughter can help us to find pleasure even in the midst of chaos, in the midst of stress, in the midst of a difficult situation. As our verse says... a crushed spirit dies up the bones.
A few years ago I went to a series of meetings put on by the mental health department here in our city. I learned a few things from them and one of them is that laughter is very good. In fact, we were encouraged to learn to put on a laugh in the middle of stress, in the middle of a fight or difficult time. Now that is easier said than done when, for the last decade or so, ones response has been seriousness or anger outbursts, however, when things get to the point when one realises that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is not going to happen, then a plan needs to be made to change things and begin to introduce laughter.
So what is your family like? When I was growing up my mom did have a short fuse, but she also forgave quickly. She would sing songs while working and we did have fun while working, but getting married changed the dynamics and things slowly changed. Getting children and moving home, dealing with life and depression and other things slowly got us into a place where the laughter and the music was kind of squeezed out and we became angry, impatient people who had forgotten what it meant to laugh and lower ones expectations. Nothing in life is ever perfect. A plan was definitely needed.
Fail to plan and plan to fail.
The first part of my plan was to pray and ask God to help me bring more laughter into my life and my very dear friend who was learning about coaching with me and we practiced with each other for a few months, asked me what I wanted to talk about. There was the first answer to prayer... laughter. I want to laugh more often. Wholesome laughter. Not about crude things, but about every day things. I wanted to not always view everything from the worst perspective, for my bones were crushed, my spirit was dry. And so for a few weeks that what I did. I made an effort to start to laugh at things, not always be so serious, to not always respond with a criticism or frustration, but to laugh instead, realising that these things happen.
I was asked how I would record this and since I did a daily journal, writing down a few things that I was thankful for in the evening and a note of praise in the mornings and reflection on the verse of the week, I thought that I would simply add in a line of how much I had laughed that day.
If the dog sat and stared at me throughout my time in the kitchen and getting under my feet, I would stare back at him and stroke him and laugh a little when he got under my feet. I began to realise that the dogs would not be with me forever, and a stroke of the soft ears and little giggle and chat with him was far more beneficial.
If the dishwasher still needed to be emptied and it was almost time to go to work, a LOL and hands in the air with an “Oh Well!” did a lot more for me than shouting at those who were gone already or needing to be at school or work as well.
So slowly but surely life became a bit more sane for me, slowly but surely I began to relax a little and the other day, while in the kitchen with my bride to be daughter, we laughed at ourselves and at each other when she had left a container out to fill it with veggies for her lunch and I had put it away, we giggled about picking up after the dog on a walk and noting the smell. And then laughed because we couldn’t expect it to smell like roses!
We laughed at the silly things we did at times... AAAARRRGH! How often we would make this noise! AAAAARRRRRGH! There we go again. Somehow we said it so that we would laugh. Good stuff. As we laughed we found ourselves breathing in deeply and feeling a lot better about the things we still had to do.
We laughed at things we had read in cartoons... like one of our favourites... Tintin. Professor Calculus with his deafness and being told he was acting the goat. The pictures, the actions... such a good laugh.
How about you? Do you need to laugh at the little things in life? Do you need to make a plan? It did wonders for me and the whole family, especially at this time of stress. Mother of the bride is not the easiest place to be, but laughter certainly makes it a lot lighter than stress.