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There’s a joke that tells of a grandmother watching her grandson play on the beach when a huge wave rolls in and sweeps him out to sea. Frantic, she falls to her knees and pleads, “God, please save my grandchild. I beg you, bring him back.”
Suddenly, another huge wave rolls in and delivers the boy onto the beach, as good as new.
The grandmother looks up to heaven and shouts, “But where’s his hat?”
A Lesson in Humor — and Gratitude
We chuckle at the humor in the story while shaking our heads at the ingratitude. That’s because humor’s a wonderful thing and we know gratitude is, too.
If you’re dealing with a challenging situation such as a chronic illness — yours or a loved one’s — there are days when humor and gratitude are both in short supply. It’s okay to struggle with finding something to smile about or be thankful for.
If you’re looking for a few coping strategies to make your day brighter and the burden of illness a little lighter, equip yourself with two of the most effective ways to do it: humor and gratitude. Here are some tips on both.
Relieve Stress and Pain With Laughter
Humor isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a potent way to ease stress and relieve pain. More and more research findings support this.
Laughter Improves Your Immune System
Finding the humor in things can create positive thoughts. That releases a type of molecule in the body that helps fight stress and perhaps the potential for illnesses.
Laughter Lessens Depression
Dealing with a chronic illness can cause depression. But laughter can help cut down anxiety and make you feel happier and more at ease.
Laughter Relaxes You
A good laugh can boost circulation and help muscles relax. Both of these responses can lower some of the body’s stress symptoms.
Laughter Relieves Pain
Lighten the moment and it may lighten the pain; laughter causes the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
Work Laughter Into Your Life
- Practice laughing. It might sound strange and feel even stranger. But practice finding the humor in different situations in your life, because it can help stress fade away. It may feel like you’re forcing it but keep at it — your body and mind will thank you.
- Read or watch a funny story. Joke books, hilarious videos and comedy shows abound. Check them out as often as possible (and sometimes, even when you don’t feel like it). It couldn’t hurt — and it most definitely can help.
- Share the laughter. There are probably one or two people in your world who always make you laugh. Get in the habit of spending time with them.
Get Good at Being Grateful
Being grateful isn’t about forcing a feeling of thankfulness or giving yourself endless pep talks. It’s normal to miss what you may have lost. Still, if you can find something to be grateful for most days, it can boost your mood and help you cope.
There are three “do’s” when it comes to gratitude:
Do Be Mindful of the Simple Pleasures
Pay attention to what’s around you. Whether it’s snuggling with a pet, listening to the birds or savoring a tasty meal. When you take time to notice what’s good about your days, you’ll get in the habit of gratitude for even the little things.
Do Keep a Gratitude Journal
Keeping a gratitude journal allows you to track what you’re grateful for and be reminded of them, too. Try to focus on people and events instead of just things — those are the most rewarding and lasting parts of life.
Do Train Yourself to See the Good in Every Day
Take that impressionable mind of yours and teach it to see the positive things in life. Then write down at least three or four things that went well that day. Train your mind to notice simple pleasures. Doing that creates new pathways in your brain, which can help build new patterns of positive thinking.
When you’re dealing with chronic illness, remember that God understands your troubles. He’s aware of the struggles and He’s sympathetic to your pain. When gratitude and laughter are hard to come by, remember his steadfast love through it all, there for you with every new day. And try to rest in that.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
– Lamentations 3:22, 23, New International Version