The Gift of Laughter doesn’t cost you anything to give or receive!

Have you ever laughed so hard tears were rolling down your cheeks and you could barely catch your breath? So hard you couldn’t stop?  It has happened to me a handful of times when something just triggers waves of laughter  that leaves me breathless and my cheeks hurting from smiling so hard!   

Laughter is a gift from God and I love to laugh as often as I can.  I seek out happy, funny people.  I will wade through lots of comedy to find that one laugh out loud unexpected explosion of hilarity.    They say that “laughter is the best medicine” but they never say for what illness.  Did you ever notice that?  That’s because laughter is the best medicine for just about everything.  It makes you feel better about the sorrows in your life and the absurd unfairness of the universe from your tiny perspective.  Laughing releases a flood of chemicals that make you feel better all over.

“Finding the funny” in your life is a skill that can be developed, but only after you stop taking yourself and your so called problems so seriously.  I have spent most of my life looking for the left turn, the absurd, the path less taken in just about every conversation I have ever had.  When you train yourself to listen and view everything from a new perspective, the laughter and comedy appear.    

A while back, I was eating dinner with my family at an out door cafe and a point of conversation was brought up, and my son conceded the point by saying “Touche’!”  Now all my life when I heard that word my brain said “that’s French from the sport of fencing, and it means “touch” or in a wider meaning “one point for you”.    

But because my mind is always trying to nail together new things, this time my mind said “That sounds like a hairpiece for your butt.”  Toupee, Tush, Tushee.  I cracked myself  up and after laughing uncontrollably for a while I finally managed to share my new word with my family, who then joined in and we  all laughed hysterically!  I am sure a few people around us were wondering what could have been so funny.   We then each “riffed” on the idea using the new word in various forms.  “Is that natural, or is it a Tushee?    It’s absurd I know.  But that silly idea triggered one of the best laughs my family has had, and we refer back to it now and then, and it cracks us up all over again!

Finding smiles and laughter in your world depends solely on you.  You have to look  for and expect happiness to come bounding out at you.  It’s like a game of hide and seek.  If you don’t know anyone is hiding, you will never look, and they will not be found.  Laughs and smiles are all around you, in every nook and corner.  All you need to do is start looking, and once you train yourself to find the happy, you will have a never ending supply!

At my last family gathering which was filled with laughter and stories,  I was joking around to make everyone else laugh, and hit my own funny bone.  It had been a while since I had laughed uncontrollably, and it was such a wonderful release.   Understand that at this same gathering, we shared our concerns about aging parents, painful accidents, major surgery and life events and choices that had sad and terrible consequences.  There were no perfectly happy people at the table, but for that afternoon we were perfectly happy thanks to the gift of laughter.

So if you want to start seeing the funny in your world, here are my action steps for you to try:

Watch some stand-up comedy from your favorite comic.  After you laugh, stop for a second and try and see the new perspective the comedian just gave you.  

Find a free web service that will send you a joke a day.

Make a list of your top ten favorite  funny movies – and have a movie night with your family or friends and share them.

Start looking for funny.   Find out what makes you laugh consistently.  Then find more of it! 

 Stay away from comedy that has ego or hate at it’s center.   If the joke basically is “that other person is a moron and I am better than they are” you will not find the best funny.   Guess what? YOU are the funniest person, and you have to laugh at yourself and the stupid things you do should amuse you constantly, otherwise you are taking  yourself too seriously.

Find some funny people, and listen to how they think.  New ideas will start coming to you faster and faster, and before you know it, you will be “riffing” with the best of them.  Until then, enjoy letting them do most of the mining for comedy gold!

For the advanced degree in finding the laughter, go to an improv show.  It’s the best training in the world for finding the funny, and finding funny people!   For the quickest way I know to start training your brain to see the funny, get my book “THE IMPROV PERFORMANCE MANUAL by Nate Truman” on Amazon.com.    This intro to improvisational comedy and the mindset you need to develop can help you jump start your quest for the funny!  Plus there is a free bonus, right on the cover of the book! 🙂   Only you can choose to see the hilarious, crazy and ridiculous and then enjoy it each day you are given.   The journey of a lifetime begins with a small step and a big smile.     Now picture someone around you wearing their new “Tushee” and it peeking out of the top of their pants or skirt, and I dare you not to smile!     

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Is LOVE on your “TO DO” list today?

1100035_love_food

 

 

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.   

1 Corinthians 13:2  NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is love on your list of things to do today? Probably not.  The “To-Do’s” that seem to be on most everyone’s daily lists are worldly items.   Pick this up at the store, learn a new skill,  buy that item, close that deal, and make that follow up call, and so on. People seem to think that once they have money, power, knowledge and influence they will be a success and their list reflects that.

 

Take a quick look down your list and see if you can find one item you are going to do today that will build a loving relationship you currently have into a closer one.  If you look at your list now with this new focus, you should be able to find an act of service that you are only doing because it is for a loved one.  “Take kids to practice” “Get groceries” “Clean house” “Get oil changed” are all acts of service you do to keep your family’s world running smoothly – but do they know you do those things because you love them? Do you realize now, that is why YOU do them?

We do things and pursue goals for reasons.  If your “To-Do” list has become a weight of guilt around your neck, try finding your root reasons for why you want to accomplish each task. Just implementing this new focus that the unpleasant or repetitive tasks you do each day are to show love to your family, can change your outlook and attitude.  Having a motivating reason for doing something makes the doing a lot easier and more pleasurable as well.  You may also find you cross off a few items, because you have identified the root desire that put the item on your list, and you now no longer want to pursue that goal. 

Love should be at the top of your list everyday.  Add at least one item that is an outward display of love for another human being.  A phone call to a friend who’s having a hard time, a stop for coffee and conversation, a long hug for a spouse or child are good examples.  Then put that at the top of your list, and get at least that one item done today! 

The funny thing about doing this is YOUR day will be happier and more focused when you have love at the top of your list!

HOW TO BECOME A JOY FOUNTAIN!

by Nate Truman

joy fountain“The great teachings unanimously emphasize that all the peace, wisdom, and joy in the universe are already within us; we don’t have to gain, develop, or attain them. We’re like a child standing in a beautiful park with his eyes shut tight. We don’t need to imagine trees, flowers, deer, birds, and sky; we merely need to open our eyes and realize what is already here, who we really are — as soon as we quit pretending we’re small or unholy.”

Unknown

 

 

 

 

Are you a “Joy Fountain?”  You are capable of choosing to be joyful every moment.  With each exchange with someone there is a choice.  You are in control of your decisions, not others, not the world, not fate.   If someone insults you, you can decide to return insult for insult, or you can decide to decline their “gift.”  Then it will still belong to the person who wanted to “give” it to you.   

Give only love, and don’t accept “gifts” of hate or guilt.  Instead offer grace in exchange, they are wounded people dealing with their own struggles.

 

A fountain flows, leaps, and sparkles, no matter who is watching it.

The next time you see a fountain in a park or public place, go and sit for a few minutes, and watch people’s reactions.

There will probably be children who marvel at the shooting waters. They want to point it out to their mother or friends.  The want to splash and swim in it.  Their innate urge is to dive into the joy and beauty.

 

There will probably be the timid adults who sit on the edge and dip in a finger, after making sure no one is looking.  Other’s may make a wish and toss in a coin.

 

The grumpy person will be frustrated that he has to walk around the fountain.  He might stare at the ground to make sure he doesn’t slip and frowns at the kids that are “in the way.”

 

In your circle of influence you can spout love and joy all the time, regardless of how people respond to your positive fountain.   Each time you consciously choose a loving positive response to another person, the change will be inside of you.  You are a wondrous one of a kind creation.  With each decision to honor the preciousness of others by choosing to see the good in them, or to offer kindness instead of selfishness, you improve your life.   So decide to sparkle, dance, and splash joy today. Become a Joy Fountain!


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AUTISM AND THE CHURCH

autismsunday01by Nate Truman

“Chaos is in fact just an illusion created by your inability to perceive the order in which things truly are.” Alyson Bradley, Autistic blogger.

As a father of a 15 year old son who suffers from severe autism, my family has taken a less traveled path.  As a pastor’s son who grew up with church being a central part of my spiritual and social life, the church has played an important role in my world.

When worlds collide there is always chaos.  However, out of that chaos, I believe great good can come about.   Daniel Dage wrote a blog that very easily could have been about my son Nicholas, and the road we have traveled trying to attend church with an autistic child. 

In many ways we are blessed that Nicky is “easy” compared to many other children. However, the stress, the judging eyes, and just giving up and not going to church are all things my wife and I have dealt with over the years.  As his childlike “cuteness” has faded and he is approaching 15, we know we have unknown challenges ahead.

 

This one quote from a mom sums up why our really great special needs Sunday school class called “Friends of Angels” is not overflowing with autistic kids:

 “Staying home is a more Holy, peaceful and rejuvenating experience for many families that have children with disabilities. Church is often a hostile, hellish experience where families are segregated or ostracized.”

 

Wow. The one place that should be a haven for these families, is often the place they are shown the least grace and compassion.  When we were “church shopping” after a move, unlike other families that would just check their kids into the appropriate classrooms, we did things differently.  The family would stay in the car and either my wife or I would go in and ask if they had any special needs teachers, for handicapped kids.  4 out of 5 times we would get a blank stare.   After asking a few other people if there was anyone who could help our “family by the side of the road,” we were often told “well, there’s a crying room.”  We would then drive to the next church.

With the help of another family with three autistic boys, we decided to build a class around our 4 kids.  Often the other father and I would be out in the playground during church when volunteers did not show up so our wives could at least get an hour of worship in.  Over time I have learned what the church needs to reach out to autistic families sucessfully. 

By listening with a differently trained ear over the years, one thing that stands out is that Autism truly is a “spectrum” disorder. Each child has to be included differently based on where they are in the spectrum. There needs to be an educated special needs volunteer or staff member at each church that is knowledgeable and listens to each parent.  That special teacher learns each child so one kid will be properly placed in with the “nurotypicals,” another in a separate class, and yet another in with the other kids, but with a helper.  

What many people don’t understand is the value and character building effect they will have on the whole church body.   Highschoolers who help out are forever changed into kinder people.  Selfishness falls away, and petty “chuch wars” disappear.  These special kids can activate sideline members to be included and find purpose in helping someone who’s problems are far more severe than their own.

 

Not every mom or dad can rise to the challenge and start a ministry – many are holding on by a thread and really need a lifetime of Christ like care from their church family.    Many churches all ready have classes for the disabled. In the past they were for either physical disabilities or Down syndrome. Autism is a whole new world of variables that won’t fit into a lesson plan.

 

At the very bottom of the comments one mom put it pretty clearly:
“I think if they (Church volunteers) complained to God about how hard it was that Sunday when my (autistic) son was there, God would have said “Find a way and minister to all my children. Not just the easy ones.” 

 

It’s not easy when being a Christian urges you to step out and minister to those who seemingly don’t appreciate it, or are not any “fun” to help.    However, I know what answer awaits all the helpers of autistic children and families:

 

‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’