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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Laugh a little - it couldn't hurt!

Back in the day I used to love to read the Reader's Digest little quips called "Laughter is the Best Medicine".  The short stories would make me chuckle and even evoke a smile from deep within.  In essence, the writers of the short one page segment in the magazine were trying to get across this idea of a cheerful heart going a long way toward changing our disposition toward things in life.  Laugh a little and the world might seem a little less challenging.  Learn to laugh at yourself and you won't be tempted to take yourself too seriously.  I don't know if the articles still run in the magazine, but I know how much joy they brought me each month as I'd read this one and "Humor in Uniform".  Those short jokes and funny stories might have been simple and kind of cheesy on occasion, but they accomplished their mission - they made us laugh!  E.E. Cummings once said, "The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."  Milton Berle said, "Laughter is an instant vacation."  Maybe we need a little more cheer in our lives and a little less seriousness - because most of us take life way too seriously more than we'd like to admit!


Being cheerful helps when we are sick, but nothing helps when we give up. (Proverbs 18:14 CEV)

I often know when a patient is going to do well in their fight against a disease or confounding illness of some sort - because I see it in their determination and drive to be well.  There is something inside of them which drives them and gives them the desire to fight often in spite of the odds.  Nothing helps when we give up - a positive attitude can determine the course of our destiny in life.  I think this may be what our writer had in mind when he penned these words.  They are simple, yet profound - attitude matters!  What we believe in our heart influences what we do in our actions - where our attitude peaks or wanes will be the highest and lowest spots in our day.

My mom suffers from a crippling spinal condition called spinal stenosis.  Add to this the advancing of her years and the onset of arthritic changes and osteoporosis and the pain can sometimes be way more than she wants to deal with.  She used to stand a proud 5 foot 5 inches tall.  Today, if she can possibly hold herself erect long enough to measure a full 5 foot 10 inches she'd be lucky.  Her spine has curved to where she no longer sits upright, but constantly leans to the left.  The curvature in her spine and neck are never so evident as when she is stooped over walking around the house.  

She sometimes struggles to rise from the sofa or chair, finding herself rising, losing her balance and plopping back down again.  The feeling in her legs has been affected by the crushing effect of her disease on the nerves of her spine.  Yet, despite her pain, she plods on. Why?  She isn't willing to give up!  She doesn't want to be crippled - she wants to be independent, functional, and able to do whatever she can in the course of her day.  Nothing speaks louder to me than her determination to "motor on" in the face of tremendous obstacles which would want to stop her in her tracks.  They disable her, but they don't disengage her from life!

I often hear her laugh at herself when she topples back, catches her foot on the carpet when she tries to take a step forward, or simply has to stand for a while getting her balance and "umph" back which will help her take the first step forward.  She'll make some quip if she stumbles a little such as, "Well, I shouldn't have had that last drink", then motor on, chuckling to herself.  She doesn't touch the stuff, but she will joke about her "instability" on her feet as though she had been tipping back the bottle a little too much!  It makes us all chuckle when we hear her say something like this because we know it is just a little humor to deal with the fear she has of falling and the challenges she faces because her body is failing.

We ALL face challenges in life - some more difficult than others.  We ALL have two choices - give into the pressures and pain, or motor on.  The choice we make in the attitude we will maintain toward the difficulties in front of us often determine if those difficulties will be our means to better ourselves, or the end of the fight for us.  There is such power in our attitude, especially when it comes to the changes God wants to create within our lives.  The changes are hard and the work is sometimes challenging, but the reward is great.  Let's remember to laugh a little, not taking things more seriously than we ought, and then to "motor on" in the face of the difficulties we face.  We might just find ourselves enjoying our journey a little more when we do!  Just sayin!