“Carolyn, where are you?” A very old theater in great need of cleaning was to be the new gathering place for church and our family volunteered to help. Scrubbing, sweeping and cleaning out rats nests kept us busy. A small group of children played as parents cleaned. But where was Carolyn? Quickly looking for my 4 year old, I scanned row after row when suddenly I spotted her lying flat on the floor between two rows of seats. With a big grin, she looked up at me and said, “I found candy.” And with that, she scratched off another piece stuck to the floor and popped it in her mouth.
In that dirty, dimly lit theater, while the rest of us were shuddering at the gross-ness, Carolyn was finding candy! Granted, she could have died from some horrible disease, but besides that….she was smiling and enjoying her treasure.
Finding JOY is a lot like Carolyn finding the candy. It might be dark and hidden by dirt, but it’s there, if you look for it.
Sometimes I forget to smile. The mirror says I’m old: sad eyes; droopy mouth and shoulders. If you look, you can see the heavy load I’m dragging. I’ve sunk into the Eeyore syndrome: “Oh, bother!”
Ketut, the wise man from Bali in Eat, Pray, Love, told Elizabeth that every evening she was to sit and smile: “…smile with your face, smile with your mind…even smile with your liver.” When I catch my sad reflection, I’ll force my face into a big smile and hold it for a minute. My cheeks feel strange because I’m using muscles I haven’t used for a while. But, something changes. It reminds me to get my mind out of the muck. It reminds me to be thankful. I’ve lived through enough tough stuff to know that whatever my challenges, I can always find things to be thankful for.
Sometimes, I’ll put my brain on a disciplinary Time-Out: making myself list things I’m thankful for. It’s like kick-starting an old engine, but before long, my thankful list flows easier. As I trade in my Eeyore mindset for a thankful mindset, my down-and-out thinking becomes have-hope thinking. Thankfulness is a choice – a healing choice.
Choose to be thankful. Find JOY! Find the candy.
Sue is the author of
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