My post today will verge on the edge of being a little “suzy sunshine,” but this new sport of mine has really been helping me, so bear with me. I am a dreamer, yes, but I also live in a real world, with real problems. And reality isn’t always easy to look at, and can start to get you down if you’re not careful. God has been letting me know in many ways that I need to find His joy, the kind of joy that doesn’t change with things that are going on around me, a joy that is more constant and will put a smile on my inside.
Here are my seven rules of “joy catching.” Attempt this sport at your own risk. Potential side effects: smiling for no apparent reason, laughing out loud in your car, and passersby maybe thinking you’re a little off.
1. Look for little things in your day that are cool, beautiful, or funny. This might be something funny your child says, like my five year old last night. “Mommy, I hate to tell you this, but I’ve decided not to go to college. I’m going to live with you and Daddy forever. Because we love each othee.” Or the baby goat I saw this morning on the way into town. A tiny little goat, with only his rear end protruding, sticking his entire head and torso into a giant hay mound, eating or hiding, I’m not sure which.
2. Give away smiles. This is a free activity, and it will pick you up, I promise. Your face might get sore and tired from all the unaccustomed smiling muscle usage, but you will get used to it. I’ve looked around at people, and the grounchy faces scare me, and the smiling people make me happy. I want to be one of those happy ones. I am therefore practicing smiling more. Just making myself put a smile on, even if I don’t feel like it.
3. Being a good listener. This goes hand in hand with number 2. Because sometimes people are really hurting, and you with a big smile on your face will make things worse. So I’m trying to talk less (!!!) and listen more, and be sensitive to the situation. This is a HARD step, so this one will take me a long time to wrap my brain and actions around.
4. See people as characters in a play or movie. Now this might not sound very sensitive as I mentionned in step 3, but it really helps you not to get so irritated with irritating people. Because let’s face it, we’re all so different, and sometimes we get on each other’s nerves. But if I try to see them as, “wow, that person would be really interesting to act out on stage…they have some very cool character quirks,” it somehow makes it more fun. It helps me step back and make it less of a personal attack on me kind of thing. As my middle daughter always says, “Everybody’s different.”
5. You gotta laugh. My very dear mother, who is also one of my best friends, says this alot to me. When things get really crazy in life, you gotta laugh about it sometimes, just so we don’t lose it. Now I admit, sometimes my laughing comes out somewhat edgy, but hey, it’s a start! And it really does relieve tension. Funny movies and books help alot in this regard. “Waking Ned Devine” is a good start to your laughing therapy if you’re looking for a funny Irish movie.
6. The Carpe Diem Principle. Yes, I am dragging out the old “Seize the day” motto, but it is so true. This really is the only day I will have exactly like this one, so I better get on with it, and make it the best I can.
7. Love each othee. The most important one, and yes, I did type “othee” instead of “other.” My daughter says that all the time, and I think it’s infinitely more cute than other, so it stays. Love covers a multitude of sins, and makes me smile inside, and makes me feel good. And the closer I am to God, the more He helps me to be the kind of person who can love, because sometimes it doesn’t come naturally to me. Hmmm..
So, that’s joy catching…try it if you dare.