We all know that one person who’s always smiling. Never looking down. Always in good spirits. What is their secret? Could it be their positive outlook on life? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe they choose to look at the brighter things in life rather than the negative?
Sometimes we look around and there doesn’t seem to be anything worth smiling about. Have you ever considered it could be worse?
Proverbs 17:22 (NLT) states “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
Genuinely cheerful people live longer and fuller lives than their sad, negative counterparts. We’ve all read what sadness and stress do to our bodies, but have you ever wondered what laughter and smiling can do?
Picture this. You’re sitting in the doctor’s office for a routine checkup. They take your blood pressure and find it too high. They leave the room for just a minute and you receive a call from a good friend who just gave you a really good joke. You end the call. The nurse returns to run the test again, only this time your pressure is deemed normal. That’s what laughter can do for you.
Sarah Pressman, Associate Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California at Irvine, who has been researching happiness for about a decade, found that patients who smiled while receiving injections found the ordeal 40% less painful than those who did not. Their heart rates did not increase because of the stress of it either. Why? Well, she hasn’t quite figured that out yet but if the Word of the Lord is correct, then it’s because it’s the way He designed us.
Finding our personal ‘happy place’ isn’t always easy. Here are some tips to help you laugh when things look dreary.
Practice looking at the brighter side of things. People get too caught up in the wrong things. For instance, your company didn’t do so well last year. Better yet, they did extremely poor. When it was time to hand out bonuses, you didn’t get your normal nice bonus check. Instead of grumbling, recognize that you did receive a check and you didn’t have to. It wasn’t something owed to you but you got it anyway, even in the company’s downturn.
Recognize the things you can change and those you cannot. No matter what you do, there are somethings you cannot control. Aging, for instance, is one of those. Instead of hiding your age embrace it. Own it! It’s yours! If you aren’t happy about how you look and feel, then change it. Work out, eat better, and make smarter decisions. These are things you can change.
Remember you can only control yourself. You aren’t responsible for others actions or responses. Like children, our counterparts in the adult world can be steered in a certain direction. However, unlike children, until they realize their error, they cannot be forced to change…similar to some two-year-olds. That’s not your concern. Work on you and be an example they can live by (like small children).
Pack a smile daily. We’ve heard daily positive affirmations work in changing our lives, but practicing to smile or even laugh at negatives situations can change your life as well. Like the scripture said, “A cheerful heart is a good medicine…” Unlike symptoms with man-made medicine, a cheerful heart can be permanent. Like medicine, one must continue to ‘take’ cheerfulness over the grumpiness. There are people who do not outwardly smile and that’s ok. Let’s all hope they are having a good laugh to themselves every now and then.
Be diligent. If you’ve spent the last portion of your life in the “grumpies”, continue to work at changing that. At one point in your life, laughter was always present. When was that? What caused it? What happened to cause a shift? Oftentimes a life event has caused this shift. More often than not, that shift requires a release or forgiveness. Let it go. Work on moving forward. Live again. Laugh again. Watch all of your aches and pains melt away – its good medicine!
Surround yourself with positive people. Misery loves company! You’re sitting alone reading a good book during your lunch hour and here comes misery with some gossip or negative words to spread. Politely remove yourself. It’s ok. They may be offended but that’s their problem. You were polite and you needed your sanity. Hopefully, they’ll get the picture and either 1) mimic your positive mood or 2) leave you alone from now on. If it’s the latter, their lost. Your cheerfulness is more important than their negative vibes. You have to care for yourself.