Notice how much better your day goes with a good belly laugh? Do you have a friend, a relative, a pet, or a TV show that makes you laugh? Do you understand how laughter enriches your life? Laughter is a part of my daily spiritual practice. How about you?
The scientific, as well as anecdotal, evidence is clear that laughter is good for us. It is a great healing agent. It is efficacious emotionally, physically and mentally, so we should cultivate the people, places and things that encourage us to laugh.
Why not take a moment today to write a list of people, and things, that consistently make you laugh? Everything on your list is a blessing and should be cherished and encouraged.
On Wednesday evening, January 30, my Center For Positive Living is offering a Laughter As Meditation workshop, so if you are close to Carlsbad, CA, you might choose to be there. Whether you attend or not, you can use grease the wheels of your days with laughter.
Be on the lookout for jolly resources. Cultivate them. Make time for laughs! It is a fairly simple thing to call your grandchild on the telephone for a laugh. It is also easy to tape a talk show that makes you laugh and then watch it at your convenience .
Begin to notice where you are putting your relationship energy. Make sure to give some attention to friends who laugh, not just the friends who ask for help with problems.
Friendships should be balanced and fun, not just based on solving problems. Sometimes we nice New Thought people can spend our energy on helping others and forget to help ourselves. Let’s not focus on healing rather than staying well.
Two friends visited me last week and I realized one reason I treasure their company is that we laugh. Their joy is contagious. One thing we laughed about was my eccentric taste in movies.
I am convinced that My Man Godfrey, starring Carol Lombard and William Powell is hilarious. It is one of those screwball comedies from the 1930’s that I’ve seen in many, many times. I showed it for them once and they didn’t laugh. But they have been laughing at me ever since.
I don’t see these friends often since they live 3000 miles away but when I do, it is a blessing. I have many other friends who are closer in distance who also make me laugh and they are also blessings.
I talk to my sister every day and we often laugh together. Our childhood history wasn’t always so light-hearted but much of it is funny in retrospect. We didn’t just survive, we thrived. And there are many day-to-day stories that are also laughable.
One gift my family shares is a sense of humor. It’s in our DNA. At times, our sense of humor can be can be a bit dark but it never intends to be cruel. We should all be careful to laugh with people, never at people. All it takes is a little mindfulness. Staying centered in love while we are laughing is important.
Sometimes people have totally forgotten how to laugh. Or they never learned. Many people come to the New Thought teaching to lighten and brighten their world. Some simply don’t know how to laugh. It may be bewildering to begin the search for laughter if you truly never crack a smile.
If someone asked me how to “safely” learn to laugh, I would suggest starting with movies. I’d also say to go for the simple, clean-hearted oldies. Skip the edgy, raucous stuff of 2012 and go back to the brighter eras on the silver screen. Despite Depressions and Wars, those comedies were really light hearted.
Right now, I have a selection of Danny Kaye movies that are waiting for me on my DVR. When he begins his amazing double talk, I will laugh out loud. He made them during World War Two when people really needed a laugh.
Want to learn to laugh? Experiment with the movies. See what makes you laugh. Do you love Lucille Ball? Does Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie seem truly funny? How do you like the Three Stooges? And what about Shrek? Do you find the wry comedy of Woody Allen irritating or irresitable?
In your experimentation, notice how your general emotional climate grows happier even if personal situation doesn’t change rapidly. A good laugh can make any problem feel more manageable.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was clearly life threatening. One of the things I did as a part of my healing program was to watch a lot of comedies on TV. I cut out all tragic drama and sad songs. Of course, I also did many other things including daily prayer. Others also prayed for me. And I had excellent medical services.
I don’t think that watching Gene Kelly sing in the rain, or Woody Allen stumble through his New York stories healed me. On the other hand, I do believe the comedies lifted my health consciousness, just as the prayers did.
You don’t have to have a life altering challenge to decide to bring more laughter in your life. It is just a simple issue of becoming more aware of what you are doing and thinking during your day. Practicing mindfulness about laughter is easy and it will pay off.
Recently, I watched W.C. Fields in a movie and he was– giving a professorial lecture on the human body. He was very pompous, talking about his miracle cure, with the authority of a snake oil salesman. He said,”My latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world’s population.”
That’s nonsensical statement that is makes fun of authority and it makes nearly everyone laugh. I could also offer statistics but don’t want to make a big deal out of the fact that laughter helps us.
I don’t want to be like the W.C. Fields or the Wizard of Oz – those all American windbags. I’m not going to promise that laughter is a panacea. I have no charts of human anatomy showing how laughter floats through your body and/or your life, clearing away all disease.
But just for a moment… Imagine I am an old time medicine woman with a chart and I’m moving my wand down through the organs until I get to the place in my gobbledegook lecture where I point to the liver and say, “And now the liver – very good with bacon and onions.”
Surprised? That made me laugh very hard when I saw Fields do it. Maybe it seems silly to you so I will just tell my truth. Laughter is good for you. Try it, you’ll like it.
Who makes me laugh?
What makes me laugh?
What do I want to do to add more laughter to my life?
I am reading a memoir my friend wrote and I am amazed. She started her life with nothing. She was born in desperate poverty with harrowing early experiences and absolutely no encouragement, yet she changed. My friend is delightful, successful, pretty, funny, and has excellent finances. What gave her the idea she could change?
I taught in the bottom track of a six track school in Trenton, New Jersey in the 1960’s. School was hell for those kids and I had a lot to learn. The kids were tolerant of my ignorance most of the time because I was honest and meant well.
Part of what I learned was that many children grow up in a culture where the TV and shop windows may show wealth but no one they actually know has any money. Nor do they have any hope.
These kids in remedial classes found the schoolwork boring and difficult and they came for the two cent peanut butter & crackers, the warm classrooms and their friend’s companionship. They didn’t come because they believed in the “American Dream.” But once in a while, some kid caught fire and zoomed ahead.
I remember a kid called Billy who gained four grade levels in reading in one semester. He wasn’t faking; he really applied himself and learned to read. It seemed as if he was as hopeless as the others, then suddenly he was working part time and reading books.
Billy told me once he was going to make something of his life and he knew it would cost him. That was back in the Sixties in the early days of the “War on Poverty” and few of us understood how the culture of poverty keeps people down but Billy understood.
Families and friends offer love but they also hold you back. Just about the time you have the money saved for trade school, someone needs it for medicine or food. Or someone steals it, but you can’t turn him in because he’s family.
We have learned much since then and today’s sociologists and educators are more sophisticated. Nevertheless, the question of why some people change remains a mystery. Are people born with luck? Does God reach down in a moment of Grace and lift us up?
There are plenty of dramatic success stories out there. AA rooms are full of them. So are college campuses where scholarship students make it. Our bookshelves are lined with stories from people who “made it” in America. If you dig a little, there seems to always be a component of spiritual awakening in those stories.
New Thought teaches that everyone comes from Spirit and is, at the level of Spirit, perfect, whole and complete. No matter what our circumstances are, God that lives within us, and is pressing to express more of our innate perfection, wholeness and completeness. We awaken when we open to Spirit.
These spiritual ideas have become much more public since the Sixties. The body-mind connection is accepted in medicine. Teachers work hard to inspire students. Oprah has introduced our New Thought ideas to the general public.
Oprah now has her own TV network and one of her hosts, Iyanla Vanzant also has a show. Iyanla’s life, like Oprah’s, inspires us because it demonstrates God’s promise of good when we open up.
Iyanla was born female and black, in the back of a Brooklyn taxicab more than fifty years ago. Her mother died when she was two, she was raped by an uncle when she was nine, and she had three children by the age of 21.
With such a beginning, she might be in jail or a mental institution but she knew she was better than the facts of her life. She fled a violent marriage and survived well enough to earn a law degree and work in the Philadelphia public defender’s office for several years.
At some point she changed her name from Rhonda Hams to Iyanla Vanzant. She chose her name, Iyanla because it meant “Great Mother” in the Yoruba religion. Her name change was a declaration of intention to identify with the great nurturing “mother spirit” of God.
So she had intention and she must have known how to pray because she said, “Prayer changed me.” Please note that she didn’t say, “Prayer changed the facts” but, “Prayer changed me”.
She went on to say, It changed my life from a place of dysfunction and pain to a place of clarity and purpose. It changed me from angry and frightened to full and available. Prayer changed my life.
…When you really fill your heart and your mind with the words of a prayer, the hysteria subsides, and once the hysteria subsides, the mind is clear, and when the mind is clear, you send forth, positive energy into the universe or into the presence of life that’s everywhere.
When the energy of a clear mind goes out and hits the actual living form or living substance, things shift, things are created, things are transformed, and you’re able to see and accept it because you’re praying.
She could be a Religious Science practitioner if she weren’t a Yoruba Priestess, couldn’t she? She said, “Prayer changed me.” She knows that we don’t pray to change God but to open our own consciousness to more and better. She knows that a changed consciousness creates new experiences.
Iyanla’s a perfect example of what life looks like when you release limited belief systems. Of course, she’s a special example because she has many best selling books and a talk show. But prayer works for everyone. When you pray, Spirit will change you as well.
As my student Billy knew, we must give up something to get something better. If we want to change we must we must release the old beliefs so we make room for the new.
Some people go to great lengths to hold onto to what they believe and they say, “Well, God had a special plan for Iyanla (or Billy or Oprah.)” God’s special plan was that she should express Life fully. That is also God’s special plan for you.
Unless we are alert, we will not change. We all live in a kind of culture of poverty when it comes to ideas. Let’s not resist our own good by denying that change is only possible for the lucky. We aren’t stuck. The Great Mother is always loving us, supporting us, and saying yes to our prevailing beliefs. Love works through Law and it works for everyone.
When Hilary Swank accepted her second Oscar, she said, “I’m just a girl from a trailer park” and some cynical people made fun of her. But she really was just a girl from a trailer park who had a clear intention. The facts didn’t matter enough to stop her. She believed in herself enough to come to Hollywood and live in her car until she got a break.
How much do you believe in yourself? Are you ready to let the facts go? Are you ready to release old beliefs that no longer serve you? Are you ready to have the Great Mother say yes to your deepest desires?
What do I want?
What might be my new name?
What n belief am I willing to change ?
Shall I pray to change myself?
I am writing this on Sunday, after I watched the President sworn in. My tears began to flow when a TV talking head said, “The United States has just installed a president for a record two hundred years without violence.” He seemed to know it was a record to install a leader without gunpoint and I suppose it is. But it isn’t surprising. the US was formed on the powerful vision of liberty and justice for all and a powerful vision can accomplish anything.
I grew up believing in democracy and the idea of liberty and justice for all. I honestly believed that when we won World War Two, the United States would lead the world into peace, plenty, justice and freedom. I was a child and, in many ways, politics were my first religion.
As an adult, I was pretty disillusioned by politics. First, there was the Korean War, and then the Vietnam War and that made me question whether humans were ever going to be able to live in peace. The idea that we could establish a civilization that was actually civil seemed naïve.
My fall from idealism was completely destroyed by the difficulties I saw in the civil rights movement. The people who didn’t want change were so determined to hold onto the past, they were willing to turn fire hoses on children. People who called themselves Christians spewed hatred as they confronted darker Christians who wanted a seat at the table.
I mourned the death of Dr. Martin Luther King as though it was the death of all hope. One reason why so many of us cried when Obama was elected the first time was it felt like the symbolic resurrection of hope.
Of course, I already had recovered a lot of my hope because of my spiritual studies, my alcoholism recovery and my natural optimism.
I also had a lot of new facts to work with. For example, when I lived in Oaxaca, Mexico, I discovered the Zapotec people were very proud of their thousand years of peace.
When I got sober, I began exploring spiritual traditions through literature. At first, I thought that the hope for peace had to be personal, rather than political. I believed we were in this life as individuals and our task was to develop individually. I still believe that – but it is not all I believe. We are One.
I remember reading a brilliant book by a British woman who pursued Hinduism in India. She struggled to release the idea she should help the poor people. She accepted that she was only responsible for her individual enlightenment. That is not my path.
I don’t think her belief was a universal Hindu belief. Gandhi could not have acted as he did if that was his Hinduism. Since then, I have encountered versions of that belief in isolation often. When I hear someone say she never votes and never watches the news, I disagree.
It may be helpful for in the beginning of a spiritual journey to focus just on themselves but I am influenced by AA that puts you in service very quickly. However, I know we must think seriously about what our limits or responsibility early. And it is important to use the serenity prayer to decide what we can and cannot do early. But we are here together on Planet Earth and I believe that we are connected in Spirit. We are One.
Clearly, if we all come from Love, we must show each other Love. That includes people we don’t know personally who are having a difficult time. The poor, the mentally ill, homeless, the jailed, the abused all deserve love. And the list goes on. Certainly, praying for each other is powerful, positive action. We also know that prayer, backed by action is an even more effective action.
The whole idea of turning your back on the world is abhorrent to me. How can that be enough if we don’t serve the our human community? I think we should help each other when we can. I think our churches should do more for the community. I think we should be active in our neighborhoods, states, nation and planet.
While it is true that we must take care of ourselves first, it is also true that one way we take care of ourselves is by helping others. People in New Thought are well placed to be agents for change in the coming years. We know how to get things done.
Hope lives wherever there is vision. We are specialists in visioning and we see others as capable of change because we know we are perfect love at the level of Truth.
Sometimes, in this blog, I’ve asked you to join me in prayer for things I’d like to see improved. I know some of you are praying for prison reform, single mothers, better schools, etc.
As our president enters his second term, I’d like to see many more New Thought leaders and students take their place in activities that follow up prayers. Let your meditation time guide you in this direction.
Why shake our heads when we hear of some Religious Right person running for school board? Ask yourself if you can imagine running for your local school board? Imagine how could you make a difference in the lives of children in your town.
Is building your skill? How about leading a group from your church into a week of Habitat for Humanity work? Ask yourself what good would come from building a house for the tenants? And the builders?
We can’t all be president. But I’d like to think we can all make the world a bit better in our own way. We can find an activity that makes the world a better place. Why not start in your own church and move outward?
I think of my life as being on a picnic. I make a mess sometimes but before I leave, I try to pick up all my trash and some that belongs to others. Leave the planet better than I found it in some way.
The spiritual leader, Emmett Fox wrote in the 1940’s that the United States has an important destiny to lead the world to a higher understanding of life. I believe he’s right.
I know it’s important to hold the vision of hope and change and it’s good be useful.. I know we should take care of the earth’s other people because we are one.
Do I feel hopeful?
Do I want to be more active in the world?
What am I interested in and what can I do?
How do I envision that will that help?
My brothers went on Dad’s hunting trips. My sister and I were expected to help clean and cook those pitiful little birds. I didn’t want to hunt and I deftly avoided kitchen chores, so it didn’t seem like a big deal then. But guns seem like very big deal right now.
I’m willing to admit that some very nice people like to hunt even if I never did. Those tiny birds seemed like a foolish payoff for all that tramping in the weeds. The birds weren’t very tasty and you could crack a tooth on a leftover bullet.
I’m writing today because life has changed since 1940 and we need new gun laws. My Dad hunted in places like Corona that are now wall-to-wall houses. One of my favorite movie scenes is when Eddie Murphy as a new congressman goes on a hunting trip with NRA types and shoots birds with an Uzi. It was so ridiculous in Distinguished Gentleman that everyone laughed. But assault weapons are not funny in real life.
I’ve never really bought the idea that hunting is a transcendental experience. Nevertheless, lots of people I’ve respected have enjoyed hunting so I’m willing to leave regular guns in the hands of responsible people. But the rest is nonsense.
The Sandy Hook massacre apparently created enough public awareness so that we are on the verge of political action. I trust that President Obama will do what he says he’s going to do, especially since a large majority of Americans are in favor. But he cannot do it alone. Good people like us need to continue a steadfast activity in the direction of change. Let’s not get discouraged or confused but forge ahead. Let’s not get trapped in rhetoric about how complicated change is. Complications dissolve where there is a clear vision.
We people in New Thought know how to hold a vision. We use the power of prayer daily. Will you join me and devote part of your spiritual practice to envisioning fewer guns and less violence? Include it in our prayer for peace?
I believe in the power of prayer and I also believe in backing up my prayer with activities that support the desired goal. There are some simple steps to take. We can endeavor to be centered in peace ourselves. We can make sure any guns we have around are securely locked up. We can also get rid of them.
Prayer works. Follow-up action works. We are not powerless and we are with the majority opinion.
When an idea takes hold, change happens and each of us can do our part to support this idea. That is actually how all change happens on a personal, community, national or worldwide level. First we establish a clear vision. God then supports that vision. I believe we must also support the vision with our actions.
God does the work but there is an old saying, “Treat and move your feet.” We seldom get the job unless we send out the resume. We seldom move ahead unless we take political action. Our actions confirm our commitment to the vision.
Don’t get confused about the issue in the following weeks. We often hear that guns are not the problem – that people who shoot guns are. That’s simplistic. Without assault weapons, fewer people would have been killed in massacres like Sandy Hook and Tucson and Columbine.
You may also hear that the real problem is violence in the inner cities. It is true that young people are losing their lives every day in the streets. Urban mayors are pushing hard to regulate guns in their cities and that is one more beginning. Tightening up gun regulations will reduce problems.
I don’t want us to be distracted during this window of opportunity, although it is clear there is not just one single solution, but many partial solutions. We must approach the problem of violence in the United States from several angles.
Mental health is a big part of the problem. We need changes in mental health identification and treatment. I can see those changes coming but I am not willing to postpone action on banning assault weapons until we solve the myriad mental health treatment issues.
Violence in the entertainment media is also a problem. The special effects that accompany crime drama in today’s movies are appalling. Many people in New Thought already choose to avoid entertainment violence. I find it’s no big loss. If enough people boycott violent films and video games, it will help.
Then there are the constitutional arguments. Both liberals and conservatives use them to defend their beloved First and Second amendments.
It is ridiculous when liberals rage against the 2nd Amendment “patriots” then turn around and insist that the appalling graphic carnage in movies is protected by the 1st Amendment. Nonsense on both sides.
The First and Second Amendments were written as a reaction to English rule. They are not written in stone. They can be interpreted differently and they can be changed. Fundamentalism, whether from the right or left is nuts.
Yes – I want to support stronger controls of violence in movies, TV and games. And… I do not want to let that slow down the control of assault weapons and tighter regulations on guns.
When the NRA and others try to cloud the issue by pointing out that the issue of violence is complicated and there are other problems, it amounts to static on the airwaves. We know there is truth in what they say and we know they say it to distract us from taking action today.
They say what they say because there is big money in guns. We know that reducing the availability of guns will help reduce violence. We also know you don’t need assault weapons to shoot birds or deer.
You do make a difference.
I believe we can reduce the violence in the United States by getting assault weapons off the street and tightening up all gun laws. I salute and support the leaders who are in front of this movement and I will sign the petitions, write the letters and pray for passage of laws and the establishment of peaceful life in this land. How about you?
I write this today because I would like to see every one who believes in the power of peaceful change to speak up in the next few days. Write letters to your representatives. Sign petitions to ban assault weapons. Send money to the organizations that support the cause. Send this blog to your friends. Spend some of your prayer and visioning time on this issue.
What do I think about gun laws?
Will I pray about it?
Will I write a comment on this blog about it?
Will I take political action about it?
Do you live in a bubble? Yes.Yes.Yes. You do live in a bubble of beliefs called consciousness. Your bubble acts as a filter and an attraction device. It draws circumstances and events to you or pushes them away. Your thought bubble is creating your life through the Law of Attraction.
Since you are reading this, you and I are probably have matching bubbles in some ways. For instance, if you are reading this on Facebook, we probably share friends. That means you get a lot of messages filled with sweetness and light, and dare to dream ideas.
My favorite news commentator likes to talk about how that other political party lives in a bubble. She seems certain her life based on “reality” but I’m not so convinced. I love her but I think she’s stuck in an “ain’t it awful” bubble. I watch her because she’s the best there is. Even though she’s a friend on Facebook, I wouldn’t want to live in her bubble.
One of the attractions of Facebook is that you select your friends and control and create your own bubble. I don’t agree with everything that’s posted on my Facebook page but it adds up to positive thinking and I am committed to positive thinking. I like to think life is a bit like Facebook.
I am also committed to changing my thinking and changing my life. Facebook has turned out to be an effective tool for that endeavor. I may get too many photos of cute animals for my taste, but the kitties really are darling. Some of the jokes are corny and others make me laugh out loud. A real laugh out loud is a wonderful thing.
Many people on my Facebook page are old friends and that’s fun. I am communicating with four wonderful people I lost track of years ago. Recently had lunch with someone I sponsored about 20 years ago. I’m also getting to know new people with positive ideas.
I used to think Facebook was a waste of time and it is still low on the time totem pole. I joined because I wanted more readers for my blog and it seemed like an easy way to expand my circle. When I receive a friend request, I check for a New Thought connection and say yes. Now I have 583 friends. Let the circle keep on growing.
Some people are afraid of Facebook because of the weirdos. I’ve found dealing with negative types easy. If someone tries too hard to sell me things, I cut him or her out of my group. Same goes with people who complain constantly. It’s very impersonal. I don’t wrestle with my decision. Out they go!
Facebook has increased my blog readership. I’m getting more comments from readers and I reached my last year goal of 200 subscribers on New Year’s Day. The biggest pay off turns out that to be the kaleidoscope of an inspirational book or DVD that my friendly bubble creates for my personal pleasure.
It feels like a science fiction movie. Imagine opening a book and finding it is filled with new stuff every time you look. It’s always the same only different. I love it – partly because of the delicious illustrations and partly because it enables me to look at old ideas in brand new ways.
I get a lot of illustrations from children’s books of the Victorian age. I’m a sucker for those Beatrice Potter paintings. I also get a lot of magical illustrations from a site called Wyse Woman. There is no way I would ever go to a psychic but I love her entries.
One day several photos of glamorous models, age 80 to 103, showed up. Who could imagine opening your Magical Facebook and seeing some elegant lady with bent shoulders and a cane modeling real clothes you can buy? No – I didn’t buy anything but I was truly charmed. It blew away some of my cobwebs about aging that were stored in my mind corners. It also made me laugh.
Lately, I’ve noticed that I’m spending quite a bit of time on Facebook and I think it is good for me and my spiritual practice. I love those inspirational quotes, pasted on photos of the Dali Lama or Albert Einstein.
Our beliefs, whether we call them mental atmosphere or consciousness or bubble are instrumental how our lives play out. We can learn to control or change those beliefs if we pay attention.
My grandmother said, “Birds of a feather stick together.” I had an eccentric psychiatrist friend who insisted she could diagnose any mental patient within a day by turning him loose in the yard and seeing who he made friends with.I thought she was just being outrageous but when I taught school I found it worked. When a student was transferred to a new school because of discipline problems, he invariably bonded with troublemakers the first day. It was like kids had radar.
One of the first things you hear in 12 Step Programs is, “Stick with the winners.” Soon after, you hear is that geographic cures never work. The great novelist Thomas Hardy said, “Character is fate”. And our pal, RW Emerson said travel was no good because you just carried “ruins to ruins’.
At some level, the idea that we attract who and what we are is an old one. It makes perfect sense to me because I have been studying and teaching Science of Mind and the work of Ernest Holmes, for many years. Our consciousness is the collection of ideas, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs we hold. We form out consciousness from what we have experienced and learned and some of it is deeply personal while other parts are cultural and historical. I personally believe we probably brought some with us at birth.
We want to reinforce the positive parts of our prevailing belief system because that will bring in more positive things to our lives. We can clean up our consciousness and then we will be more loving and hopeful about ourselves and the world. We are confronted with many choices daily and we can steadily move toward the light.
Life is easier and better when we make positive choices. With attention, we can improve any situation. We can begin today by consciously looking at what we are reading, what ideas we are accepting and what friends we are choosing. We have a lot of control because there is a Power For Good working in our lives and we can use it.
Life is not as simple as Facebook but the principle of the Law of Attraction is the same. You and I can control the messages we receive in life by the large and small choices we make today. How shall we spend our time? With whom shall we spend our time? What shall we read? What shall we view on TV? We can choose. Some choices can be new and different.
How do I choose my friends?
What do I want my message to be today?
Is there anything I want to change today?