See my finger?
See my thumb?
See my fist?
You'd better run!
It was definitely said by the tough kids, taunting wimps, flaunting their powerful five year old muscles with the rhyme.
I've given one black eye in my life. My friend, Donald, was teasing me on the playground at school one day saying I liked a little boy named Matthew! It was quite true of course. But for whatever reason I felt my honor and respectability was at stake. So I started chasing Donnie, swinging my fists, telling him to be quiet! Then suddenly, without warning Donnie turned around to end the chase and be done with the game; Wham! You know that comical line from the '90's, "Run into my fist." That's literally what happened! It was the classic case of being in the wrong time in the wrong place and my fist caught him squarely in the eye! I felt terrible hitting my friend! It was on accident! But at least now I'm aware I can give a black eye if I need to!
I've had a new "friend" chasing me around this playground of "life" lately. She goes by the name, Emotions. We have a very tight bond. For whatever reason another childhood rhyme comes to mind;
There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good
She was very, very good
But when she was bad
She was horrid
Indeed, when emotions are good, they are very, very good! Laughter literally releases more feel-good endorphins that lead to feelings of calm & peace. Emotions cause us to feel tender and sweet toward our loved ones. They cause us to feel compassion toward less fortunate humanity, that feeling then pushes us into an action of helping.
But when emotions are bad, they ARE horrid. There are events that can occur that send our emotions into a tailspin. It could be an unfaithful friend, or a death in the family, or the illness of a child. It could be the environment of a job, or even worse, the loss of a job.
My emotions went into a tailspin about five years ago and I had no clue what was going on! I came from positive parents. I am naturally inclined to be positive and bright. Suddenly (at least it snuck up on me so silently it felt like "suddenly) I was needing to cry for no reason. I would feel bursts of anger like I'd never known. And I was sick alllll-the-tiiiime! I had hormone tests done, because of course as a woman, PMS can be blamed for everything emotional and spasmatic! My hormones were PERFECTLY balanced. My iron was even higher than most women of my age. My thyroid was good. I went to homeopathic doctors, and traditional doctors. There was nothing physically wrong with me!
Through prayer, counsel, and some major life-upheavaling decisions I began to realize my problem was literally "all in my head." I had allowed some damage to occur to some foundational elements of health and well-being and now my whole structure was reeling from the damage. I HAD to get proactive on repairing that foundation for several reasons; 1. I still had kids to raise and they were entering their very vulnerable teen years. 2. I love my job as a music director and leader in my church. 3. I had a LOT of future ahead.
More prayer ensued. More counsel. More research. I knew the joy of the Lord was my strength. I knew my answers were in prayer. But I was very confused at myself and very frustrated with my counsellors because the prayer and the joy didn't seem to be helping! Then I happened across a book at my public library. ("Happened?" I believe God set up the encounter.) The book was called, "Happy For No Reason." It wasn't a Christian book. But it was a great resource to help me. What the book did for me was showed me HOW TO access the joy & peace that was already within me!
We've just finished celebrating Christmas and I received from my parents a gift I've been wanting for a while; an iPad2! Here's why my iPad is relevant (besides the fact that I'm currently writing from it! Yippee!) The iPad2 was purchased, paid for in-full, in other words, no ongoing payments were required. The iPad2 was gift wrapped by my mother. The iPad2 was laying beneath her garland bedecked antique piano. For the three to four weeks leading up to Christmas my iPad2... (Sorry! I just get giddy saying "iPad2!) MY iPad2was right there! I walked within inches of it more times than I can count. I KNEW IT WAS THERE! she had asked me if I wanted an iPad2, she called me from the store to find out if I wanted 3G on it. So I actually KNEW I had an iPad2 and I knew the day it was purchased for my benefit!
When did I benefit from this lovely, magical creation of Steve Jobs? The day I TOOK ACTION! And THAT'S what "Happy For No Reason" showed me how to do; take action. I definitely had God's attention in prayer. I would cry my heartache out to him and his spirit would minister to me so intimately. I would even speak in other tongues. But I'd leave that time of prayer and worship and still be lugging around such heavy, oppressive emotions!
Through reading that book (which you must read yourself since I don't have time to rewrite it here) I learned that I had to extend my arms, use the ligaments and muscles in my hands to receive the gift already mine, and I had to tear the paper off, and I had to open the box, and I had to power on the device in order to benefit! (Ok. I just sorta flashed back to that wonderful moment when I got this amazing device currently being tapped and swiped with love!) But that's what I had to also do with my body and brain in order to benefit from the joy and peace already mine via the Holy Ghost!
Though no particular chapter in the book said to do a Happy Exercise, or what exactly that Happy Exercise would be, I combined actions I saw in various chapters and created my OWN Happy Exercise! I knew from my experience in working out that what was required to build the strength of a muscle was repetition. What is required to build a good habit, or tear down bad habits is repetition. So I set the alarm on my phone to go off every hour and I began delivering a five-fingered fist to the breadbasket of bad emotions.
1. Smile for no reason.
When my Happy Exercise alarm goes off. (I have mine set for every hour.) I SMILE! Research shows smiling releases happy hormones into your brain. Women who've had Botox done on the frown lines around their mouth had relief from depression because frowning causes your brain to produce negative, stress inducing hormones. So every hour, for no reason, I SMILE to release the happy endorphins!
2. Think happy thoughts.
I think of someone, someplace, or something that I like. It may b a song, or a book, or a miracle, or an act of kindness I heard about. It may be something that happened so long ago I can't even remember the details. But I very PURPOSEFULLY think a happy thought.
I ask God to help me be happier. I ask God to heal whatever is causing me emotional or physical pain. I ask God to help the people I'm worried about. I thank God for his blessings. Sometimes this lasts 30 seconds. Sometimes it last 30 minutes. But I purposefully connect myself to my Creator during this Happy Exercise.
4. Do an exercise.
Exercise releases more of those happy endorphins into your brain and bloodstream. So whether you want to lose weight or not. Just MOVE YOUR BODY! Sometimes I go for a walk. Sometimes lock my office door and do 10 pushups. Sometimes I annoy my co-workers by running up and down the stairs three or four times. Sometimes I just stand up from my desk and touch my toes. But I purposefully exercise my body.
5. Compliment someone.
I either write a quick, short notecard or I shoot off a text or fb message to someone letting them know something they have done that I appreciate. I tell someone I think they're beautiful. I tell someone about a good deed I overheard they did and how it impressed me. I tell someone how their conduct under pressure inspired me.
And now we're back where I started...
See my finger?
See my thumb?
See my fist?
You'd better run!
Now I know how to show my horrid emotions exactly who is boss of me! In those five exercises I am deliberately raising my fist to sadness, negativity, oppression, and doubt and delivering a very complete KO! Do I still feel sadness? Of course! Do I still have bad days? Yep. And as long as I have blood pumping through my veins I'll hafta keep on guard against negativity. But NOW I know what and how to get my inner army of joy-bots moving and grooving, taking back territory that rightfully belongs to me.
If you've been dealing with the effects of bad emotions, I hope you'll begin doing Happy Exercises with me. If you have a friend dealing with depression I hope you'll invite them to join me AND YOU in doing Happy Exercises.
Negativity is the enemy and I now know how to raise my fist to it!