By Father Joseph Breighner
On the cover of the latest issue of Release Magazine (a publication of the Release Technique) is a picture of a smiling baby with the following paragraph: “Children smile about 400 times a day. Only a third of grown-ups smile more than 20 times a day, and less than 14 percent muster a grin more than five times in 24 hours. Smiling can reduce the level of stress while increasing mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins.”
How about that? Just deliberately smiling often each day may be the simplest, cheapest, and best thing we can do for our over-all health. Somewhere else I heard that a good belly laugh can give the same benefit as a mile of jogging! I can’t prove that statement, but I, for my 41 years of priesthood, have always told funny stories in my homilies. Didn’t Jesus promise the fullness of life here and hereafter?
In the same issue of Release Magazine and also in a variety of publications and websites such as the “Daily Good,” have been listed: “15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy”. My hunch is that if we practiced these 15 things all day every day (not just read them but practice them) that the caseload of many counselors would go way down, fewer drugs for anxiety and depression would be sold, and addicts would happily give up their addictions! I can only offer a tiny, condensed summary in this brief column.
Here is my condensed version of their 15 things to give up (For a more detailed list from the “Daily Good,” click here):
1. Give up your need to always be right. “Would I rather be right, or would I rather love?” Which is less stressful?
2. Give up your need for control. Let go and let God. Just allow things to be.
3. Give up on blame. Take responsibility for your own experience of life.
4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk. Don’t believe everything your mind says.
5. Give up your limiting beliefs. Look at life through God’s limitless eyes of love.
6. Give up complaining. I personally like to complain! However, when I’m finished grumbling with family or friends, we all have a good laugh and let it go!
7. Give up the luxury of criticism. Enough said.
8. Give up your need to impress others. Just love you as you are, and love others as they are.
9. Give up your resistance to change. “Follow your bliss. Embrace change. Don’t resist it.”
10. Give up labels. “Minds only work when open.” Love, don’t label. Jesus taught us to love even our enemies.
11. Give up on your fears. “Fear is an illusion. It’s all in your mind.” As President Roosevelt said: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
12. Give up your excuses. “Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck in lying to ourselves.”
13. Give up the past. “Be present in everything you do and enjoy life.”
14. Give up attachment. “Attachment comes from a place of fear, while love – real love – is pure, kind, and selfless.”
15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations. “Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live.”
I close with one of my favorite quotes from St. Francis of Assisi: “I have done what was mine to do. May God show you what is yours!”