Guest Blogger Debra Joy Hart, RN, CLL-E, delivered this talk for a Sunday service at her Unity Church and Spiritual Center.
Let it go my love my truest, let it sail on silver wings.
Life’s a twinkling, that’s for certain, but it’s such a fine thing.
There’s a gathering of spirit; there’s a festival of friends,
And we’ll take up where we left off when we all meet again.
~The Gathering of Spirits by Carrie Newcomer
I joined World Laughter Tour in 2008. I had observed its function for several years previously when I attended international humor conferences (www.aath.org). At first, I thought it was a little weird. I mean, they all did these exercises and laughed… all different laugh sounds. Their leader, Steve Wilson (now part of my A congregation of close friends) seemed a little imposing, in my opinion.
In 2008, I needed some stress relief as I embarked on being the conference chair for an international humor convention, AND we were on a cruise ship, with LOTS of rules, AND this had NEVER been done by this organization AND the organization had a new management company. I decided to become a Certified Laughter Leader. That’s a credential earned through successful completion of studies with World Laughter Tour, Inc. (WLT).
Right away I felt relaxed and comfortable and at home. Why? Because everything about it spoke to my heart and my own core principles. It reminded me of the church I belonged to, and its main tenets.
WLT Mission: Together we can lead the world to health happiness, and peace through laughter and the formation of World Laughter Tour clubs
WLT Vision: WLT will act as the international clearing house for information, ideas& news about therapeutic laughter and the role of emotions and attitudes in health and happiness; helping people achieve their fullest potential via enjoyable, systematic, life affirming self-care strategies.
WLT Guiding Principles: Service, Spirituality, Accuracy
WLT Slogan: Think Globally, Laugh Locally
All of this and the first of 20 hours of training made my heart sing with joy. Changing the world and creating peace, one HA at a time? Now these were some rules, and a Code of Ethics, I could get into. I was present, absorbing all of the details, ready and willing to be part of this organization.
One of the key elements of any WLT laughter club is a program called Good Hearted Living™ (GHL) that integrates attitudinal healing with the positive power of nature’s great built-in emotional balancer, laughter. Members are encouraged to subscribe to GHL as a simple daily practice of remembering six healthy psychological and spiritual practices that can help prevent hardening of the attitudes.
Mondays are for Compliments
It can be easier to give someone else a compliment than receive one. It may be easier to say, “Wow Evelyn, I love those colors on you.” When someone gives you a compliment do you say, “Thank you” and leave it at that? If complimented on your successful weight loss, do you retort, “Well, I still have 20 lbs to go”; or, when complimented on your cooking do you responded, “It’s okay, but it’s not the taste I was after.” How about when someone compliments your intelligence or thoughtfulness? Do you take it in and simply say, “Thank you.” Do you ever compliment yourself?
Try this. (Yes, those who are sitting and reading this)
Imagine you just woke up in the morning. You go to the bathroom and see yourself in the mirror. Your hair is an unintended Mohawk. Goopy stuff in your eyes. White crusted drool from the corner of your lower lip. Point your finger toward your reflection, smile and say “you’re awesome” with a little flip of your hair or a shake of your head. Now that you laughed at that image, seriously try this in the morning. Complimenting yourself, at your worse, honors your humanity and divinity. If you can do this for yourself, you just might be able to look at others at their worst, see their humanity and divinity, compliment them and in turn, be the encouraging voice they just might need to hear in that moment.
Tuesdays are for Flexibility
Flexibility isn’t always about the perfect yoga pose or getting up from a chair without creaking knees. Flexibility of mind and spirit is every bit as important. Recently I was having some knee problems. I looked in Louise L. Hay’s book, “You Can Heal Your Life.” Her book talks about how certain mental patterns contribute to dis-ease and dis-harmony of the body. She has written affirmations to course-correct those patterns.
For example, knee problems (according to Hay) represent pride and ego. The Louise Hay affirmation response is: I am flexible and flowing.
What areas of your mind, body or spirit need to “enlighten up?” Have you been too rigid in your thought? Are you one that says, “I am just this way, I cannot changing!”
Maybe you use words like ‘I will never, or No way would I ever…” and my least favorite “Well, I (or we) have always done it this way…” These are excuses for a closed mind. In my best Dr Phil voice, I ask you, “And, how’s this workin’ for ya??”
Another way to approach flexibility is to ask yourself, “Do I need to be right or do I need to be happy?”
Wednesdays are for Gratitude
When I do laughter clubs in Long Term Care centers, I ask, “What are you grateful for?” The 2 most common answers from people over 80: “My family” and “Getting up in the morning.” When I ask people between 55 and 75, most answer “grandchildren” and “health.”
What are you grateful for?
I use a gratitude cup for part of my daily spiritual practice. As I turn my cup right-side up in the morning, I have gratitude in advance for the blessings I am about to receive. I have faith that what I need for the day will appear. In “Spiritual Economics”, Eric Butterworth speaks about when Jesus blessed the loaves of fishes. Jesus blessed the seemingly “short supply” of food compared to the amount of people present. To bless means to, “confer prosperity upon.”
When Darrell (or my BFF, Judy) and I travel, we always start the day with this question, “how can it get any better than this?’ And it always does.
Thursdays are for Kindness
One of the easiest ways to show kindness is with a genuine smile. Maybe you are listening to another, and smiling to show your support. Perhaps, you are in a stress filled line at the airport and someone makes a funny comment. You smile, others see you smile and it signals, “It’s OK to smile and lessen the stress.” Smiling to a stranger may just be the light they needed for the day. You never know who is looking for a smile in a crowd. Be the kindness people need. Smile often.
Fridays are for Forgiveness
This is a tough one. Most people don’t like to talk about forgiveness. The importance of forgiving someone who has hurt you has been written about for centuries. Today, I would like to focus on NOT forgiving others, and only forgiving yourself.
In 1998, my mother died at age 65. It was 2 weeks from diagnosis to death.
After she was given the diagnosis, I sat silently with her for hours. I was thinking of all the people in my life, both as a nurse and not, that I helped on their hospice, death and dying journey. As I asked hundreds before, I gently asked my mom,’ Is there anything you want to talk about?”
In her pain, she yelled at me, “No, I will do my talking to God!” I felt like the biggest failure as both a daughter and nurse. I sat quietly for another few minutes, shoving the rush of tears back into my eyes. I went to the nurses’ station and asked for the hospital chaplain. The nurses saw my face and immediately said go to the lounge, the call will come in there. I answered the ringing phone, and the chaplain calmly spoke. “Why are you crying?” I told her I felt like a failure since I had spoken to so many comforting them on their death journey, and I couldn’t even do this for my own mom.
She asked me this simple question, “Have you ever done this before? Had a dying mother?”
Of course “no” was my answer. “What are you comparing yourself to?” was the next question. And, I had no answer.
I am sure many of you have a similar situation, where you thought back and said,” if only I had done this…”
The truth is that if you could have done any better, you would have. There was no failure, although many might want to assign blame. Please don’t assign blame to yourself.
I ask those of you reading this, to tap above your heart. Keep tapping. Breathe in slowly, now, breath out slowly. Repeat. And gently say to yourself, “I am OK.” Do this 3 times.
“I am OK” is your forgiveness. You never did this before. Nothing to compare yourself to.
The last part of GHL is
Weekends are for Chocolate! YAY!!!
Whether you are allergic to chocolate or can’t have sugar or are diabetic… chocolate represents the sweetness of life. It is symbolic of anything sweet in your life. What is your sweetness? What makes your heart sing? What brings you joy? Take a Sabbath to enjoy all that makes your spiritual heart full.
And, if your ‘weekend ‘ is a few hours off here or there, or in the middle of the week or a one day staycation, contemplate and include things that feel good to you. Make time to rejuvenate.
In 1939, Charles Fillmore (founding father of Unity) wrote in his book, “Jesus Christ Heals”, in the chapter “Healing Power of Joy,” all healing systems recognize joy as a beneficent factor in the restoration of health to the sick.. The nerves surrounding the heart are most sensitive to thoughts of fear and when mind and body are strenuously excited the fearfully charged nerve cells grab the heart and hold it like a vise… It follows logically then that we should cultivate those mental activities which stimulate the currents of life in the body. One of these, and a very important one, is joy.
Good Hearted Living™ helps me focus daily on what I really want out of life and what is important to me. Maybe it will help you too.
And, always be on the lookout for a new diet to improve health. Let me end with this suggestion. The elimination diet: Remove anger, regret, resentment, guilt blame and worry. Then watch your health and life improve. ~Charles F. Glassman
Summaries of Good-Hearted Living(tm) have been translated into dozens of languages, free to download.
Debra Joy Hart, RN, is a Certified Laughter Leader-Expert Level. Her company is called M.I.R.T.H. = Medicine is Relationships, Trust and Humor. Debra’s ‘1,000 Red Noses’ project is endorsed by the Laughter Arts & Sciences Foundation. She has traveled the world to bring the good news about laughter to places as far and wide as Peru and Japan. The spirit of her travels is peace, cooperation, health, and joy. Stories of her travels are fascinating and uplifting.