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Keith Wishum: A cheerful heart

Bill, Jim, and Scott found the elevators of their hotel broken. They would have to climb 75 flights of stairs to their room. Bill suggested, “Let’s break the monotony.  I’ll tell jokes for 25 flights, Jim can sing for the next 25, and Scott can tell sad stories for the rest of the way.”
At the 26th floor, Bill stopped telling jokes, and Jim began to sing. At the 51st floor, Jim stopped singing, and Scott began to tell sad stories.
“I’ll tell my saddest story first,” he said. “I left our room key in the car!”
Do you have a sad story? Maybe just that it’s July – for those of us in South Georgia, the month of blazing heat and a bazillion gnats. Vacation may be over. School is about to start back. And, did I mention the heat?
Is there a way to be happy even now?
Wise words suggest that we can enjoy an ongoing internal party anytime. “The cheerful heart has a continual feast,” he says (Proverbs 15:15). Continual. Always. We can live it up from the inside out – even when our diet is strictly low-cal.
But how do I have a cheerful heart? Nothing seems too cheerful right now. Can I change that?
Absolutely! Consider five simple suggestions from Proverbs for creating cheerfulness in your life. These are things any of us can do.
• Live right. “The prospect of the righteous is joy” (Proverbs 10:28). Nothing drags us down into the dumps like a load of guilt. Do right in order to feel right.
• Curtail conflict. There is “joy for those who promote peace” (Proverbs 12:20). It’s hard to be happy and angry at the same time. Resolve your differences. Forgive and find forgiveness. Revel in good relationships.
• Act happy. “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart” (Proverbs 15:30). Smile and be pleasant to others even if you don’t feel like it; your cheerfulness will bounce back to you.
• Focus on pleasant thoughts. “Good news gives health to the bones” (Proverbs 15:30). Make a list of good things in your life, and remind yourself of those often.
• Create a pleasant environment. “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart” (Proverbs 27:9). Surround yourself with enjoyable sights and sounds – good music, beautiful scenery, humor.
A cheerful heart is like a working elevator; it will take you to the top. Enjoy the ride – and no sad stories!

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.