Why Bother Maintaining a Sense of Humor?

Never Settle For A Ripple When You Can Make A Wave

Why Bother Maintaining a Sense of Humor?

Having a sense of humor is our capacity to recognize the funny side to life. To maintain our receptivity to funniness, we have to allow ourselves to laugh. Though life is serious, we can’t make it so somber that we forget to engage the muscles we use for laughter. If we do, those muscles will atrophy. 

  Retaining Muscular Tone

The muscles used for laughter are located in our abdomen, around our mouth and eyes. When responding to humor, our brow goes up, eyes widen and our jaws relax and may even open wide. Muscles in our abdomen move as we emit a gleeful noise. Of course the more we exercise these particular laughing muscles, the more toned they become, the less we engage them, well then the more lax they become.

It is easy to spot people with lax laughter muscles. Their mouth is turned downward, lips pursed, and eyes absent of any merriment. Their shoulders are lax, turned inward and their bellies slightly protrude. It does not take long for anyone’s body to conform to the posture lacking in elation, jubilant or joy. 

On the other hand, it is just as easy to spot those whose facial and belly muscles are toned by laughter and whose eyes are moist and clear from tears of daily guffawing. Like following in the footsteps of morally upright people, shadowing a person with toned laughter muscles and merry eyes is crucial to our own well-being. 

When we surround ourselves with people who laugh easily, smile often, and see the funny side to life, our lives will be better off. Though I cannot say the exact number of times we need to exercise the muscles involved with laughter, I do know that repetitive movement of those muscles does more good than harm. So, the more we are engaged in the action of laughing and smiling, the easier it will be to maintain well toned laughing muscles. 

Just in case you need a smile or a little tee-hee; What do you get when you cross a tortoise with a porcupine? (a slow poke).

Why bother maintaining a sense of humor? Maintaining our sense of humor is as important as retaining any other part of our wellness. But don’t take my word for it. Have a good laugh and feel it for yourself.

Why Bother To Smile More?

Why Bother To Smile More?

Practicing balancing poses in yoga is not an easy feat. Standing on one foot or on one’s head takes concentrated effort. Oftentimes when I focus too hard on mastering a balance pose I fall out of it and then realize two of my biggest mistakes. First of all, I am taking myself too seriously and secondly, I am holding my breath. 

      Go Ahead and Grin

 Normally, when a sequence of balancing poses are practiced in a yoga class, the teachers are well aware of the tension that builds up inside everyone. They understand how difficult the poses can be and that our balance varies from day to day. They also know how strongly everyone wants to succeed at these poses and for this reason they often remind students to smile and breathe. Other instructors will say to embrace the wobbles. In other words, when tempted to take a pose too seriously, we are reminded to lighten up. 

These cues —to smile, breathe and embrace the wobbles— are good reminders for people with personalities such as mine. I know I can be a little competitive, even with my yoga practice. I am also somewhat obsessed with an urgency that becomes an intense and pulsating force of energy. I get impatient quickly and  have a tendency to equate self-worth with achievement. People like myself have a difficult time embracing the wobbles, let alone smiling when doing something hard. We just want to perfect our poses.

Smiling more often might be helpful, but it is not easy to do when one is focused on a demanding task. It takes a conscious effort. But, when I do remember to smile, whether when attempting to stand on one leg or working hard to teach fourth graders a new math concept, I notice instant changes taking place in my body.

First of all, my sense of urgency leaves my body and I feel my shoulders drop away from my ears. My voice softens and slows down. The wrinkles in my forehead smooth themselves out and the tension in my head dissipates. Finally, I remember to breathe. 

Not only does my body change, but anyone in close proximity changes too. When I smile, they do as well. So much goodness from simply changing the shape of my face. 

Why bother to smile more? It is worth it to change the shape of our face from a tense expression to a wide grin. After all, when we do, we can change our whole world. 

Why Bother To Aspire To Be Content?


Why Bother To Aspire To Be Content?

Some personalities are more pleasant to be around than others. For instance, being in the company of a contented person is as enjoyable for me as sitting on my deck, in the sunshine, listening to bird song and enjoying the beauty of spring blossoms. Contented people make me smile, I can relax in their company, and after parting, I look forward to seeing them again. Not so with a discontented individual. Like a cold winter rain, being in their presence is anything but comfortable or warming. 

Benefits of Contentment

Contentment is an attitude we can aim toward and when we do, we gain gratitude, peace, satisfaction and a lighter heart. Contentment does not mean we ignore imperfections in ourselves or our circumstances, but the imperfectness we notice does not dominate the landscape of our thinking. Neither is contentment about never improving ourselves or our circumstances. Rather contentment means we find some tranquility and delight in what is offered in the present  moment. 

When I was hired as school teacher in a rural school, I thought I’d use it as a stepping stone, eventually finding a position in a larger school closer to home. But this year, as I started my fourth year in the same school, I decided to no longer think of my position as a stepping stone, but rather as the school where I want to stay. It is by no means the perfect school, but choosing to be content where I am has diminished the things I’d once thought of as imperfections.

Because of the size of the school, there is only one teacher per grade level. I’d always thought I wanted a teammate, another teacher teaching the same grade level as me, so that we could exchange ideas. But, becoming content with where I am has uncovered  the idea that it doesn’t matter that I am the only teacher teaching my grade level. Everyone of the teachers at my school gives me fresh ideas for instruction.

I drive a twenty minute commute to and from work every day and used to think that it was a long and boring drive. Now, choosing to be untroubled with the distance, I find it to be the most tranquil and scenic part of my day. I view eagles flying, mist hovering along green hillsides and a beautiful expanse of a lake. My commute has gone from being an inconvenience to becoming a time of thanksgiving and contemplation. 

Gratitude, peace, satisfaction and a lighter heart are the result of my choice to be content working at a rural school. Contentment also makes me more of an enjoyable person for others to be around. Hopefully, like the spring sunshine and the beauty of colorful blossoms, I can make another person smile, and look forward to seeing me next time.  

Why bother to aspire to be content. Cheeriness is worth it. Who wants to stand alone in the cold rain when it’s more pleasant on the sunny side?