Cheerfulness. The very word can grind when we’re not in the right frame of mind. Monday mornings, gray weather, not enough sleep, too much to do… there are a lot of reasons to not be cheerful. Yet it’s what God asks of us. St. Paul is constantly urging the churches to rejoice, to be glad; and in fact as Christians we are bound for eternal life with Jesus—there’s the best reason of all to be cheerful!
Still, when the tribulations of life seem overwhelming, there are things we can do.
- Start every day with a resolution. Add this one phrase to your morning prayers: “Make me honest, painstaking, and cheerful.” Speaking the words helps rewire your brain to anticipate the behavior.
- Let go. One of the biggest barriers to cheerfulness is holding on to the past, worrying about the future, and letting negativity rule your mind. It’s not easy, but you can do it. Forgive; focus on the here and now; let the past go.
- Put on your acting hat. Our minds and bodies like patterns. If you have a pattern of being disgruntled, that is where you’ll feel most comfortable, and that’s how you’ll continue to behave. Give yourself a new pattern to follow: acting cheerful leads to feeling cheerful and thinking cheerful thoughts.
Fr. Roger J. Landry says that “the clearest sign of the greatness of faith is joy. It’s the clearest sign of the loving trust and total surrender that is involved in faith.” If we go about our days with cheerfulness and joy, it is a sign to the world, it is us living out the Gospel and drawing others to Christ. Not a bad reason to be cheerful!
Photo: Sithamshu Manoj for Unsplash