Sitting around the table in my grandma’s kitchen meant that there was food nearby. Most of the time the food was a dessert of some sort brought by one of my relatives. We loved to sit together and visit while eating. There didn’t have to be a specific reason for the visit and it didn’t really matter if the dessert was cookies, cakes, or pies we would eat and talk. A big part of the visits was laughter. Our family isn’t quiet in general but when you added laughter to the mix you could hear us from a block away. It was addicting and looking back I now understand why my mom never wanted to leave the conversations to take us somewhere (usually it was to the mall so we could walk around and do nothing).
One of the greatest sounds I remember was laughter. One of my aunts had the loudest laugh ever! I knew she was there though even if it was from a mile away. She just had that way about her. I think of her now as the glue that held our family together and she still does today. My mom used to take us over to her house and we would hang out with her for the day. It seems that she always had somewhere to be and if she didn’t she would plan for us to go somewhere. We would pile into her bright yellow bug and zoom to the desired destination. I think the biggest thing about her is that she incorporated laughter and joy into her day.
That sticks with you. Our brains are programed to either respond to fear or joy. When we allow our minds to work as they should we start to be on the lookout for joy. Fear brings the responses of fight, flight, or freeze which as we all know cause us to close up shop and not look for anything remotely joyful because we are so focused on the fear. You know what happens when you can’t seem to find joy in the moment? Our brains will try and go back to our memories of joyous times. The more memories we have of joy and the more times we find joy in our lives the more our brains are filled with it.
There are days when I don’t even have time to sit down for lunch, these are the days I come home exhausted and in a state of wonder on if I did anything productive during the day. These days are also the days in which I try and do too many things at once. I have too many things on my brain, my thumbs hurt from all the texting, and my emotions are fried because I couldn’t be everything for everyone all at once.
Then I have the days, usually when I take myself away from the crazy life, in which I can see the beauty around me. I can enjoy the conversations with my kids, and my hubby. I put the phone down and I am in the moment. I am not trying to do 50 things at once. These times are when I find my laughter. I love that my laugh is as loud as my aunt’s. I love that when I worked at the “Happiest Place on Earth” my boss used to tell me that I had to quiet down my laughter because he could hear me all the way across the park. When I purposely look at life around me, joy pops up because I am not ignoring it with business.
As living human beings joy is healthy for us. Science has proven it over and over again. Think of the last time you were with a group of people that you just had pure fun with. Laughter was probably a big part of it. My family wasn’t always happy per say, but we had lots of moments of joy. Life isn’t easy as a grown up, but there are lots of moments of joy. Joy is from God. He created us to not live in fear but in joy. This doesn’t mean we are always happy, but it does mean we can trust and rely on the One who designed us. Today find some joy. If you have a pet, take time to love on them. Go for a walk without your phone. If joy is hard to find, think to a memory that was joyous for you. The world is hard to live in sometimes, so we have to do our part to keep joy centerstage. Until next time:
Research has shown laughing for two minutes is just as healthy as a 20min jog. So now I am sitting in the parking lot of the park giggling at all the joggers.