Sunday, 19 November 2017

Finding Laughter

This week I read something that made me feel sad.

Children laugh, on average, 150 times a day. Adults laugh, on average, only six times a day.

Wow - I think I miss out being an adult!

Only the day before I read the quote, I was listening to the children laughing and stopped to think what a beautiful sound it was. One because, if I can be honest, it made a change from bickering and two because it sounded so free.

It seems crazy to think that as my life has progressed my ability to laugh has reduced. It does not seem quite right that for every one time I laugh, my children are capable of laughing 25 times. A statistic I would like to be different - I would like to be more like a child.

That is something Jesus also suggests, to be more childlike. Children are curious, they explore - often with their eyes wide open, searching and usually finding something to satisfy their curiosity. Children love without expectation. Often they are very forgiving and generous. Children are able to give of themselves, simply because that is what they wish to do.

Maybe, because children are so willing to receive, they freely find joy and happiness which leads to lots and lots of laughter.

Maybe my laughter is less as I am much more complicated and far less free. I over think, I come with expectations, I am wary of being curious or exploring something new. I struggle to give of myself as I am unsure of what I might receive in return.

I do not want to be average! Instead I choose to find laughter. I wonder if it may not be an easy choice as it will mean letting go. Finding real laughter and the freedom that it brings means letting go of expectations and overthinking. Curiosity will have to take the place of planning how things will turn out. As I take each new step, I will have to be free rather than bound to what has been.

I very much imagine this will involve one step forward and then a few steps back - I will not be hitting the 150 mark straight away!

It will be worth the effort and I will persevere because laughter is beautiful, it is contagious, it is uplifting and freeing. Average is simply no comparison.

Monday, 6 November 2017

I Choose To Notice...

If I am honest, it does not take much to make me cry. I can well up at the smallest thing! Someone shows kindness - not necessarily to me - and tears appear. Words spoken or sung can, on occasion, have a similar effect. Watching a DVD and my eldest will turn to me and ask, "Are you crying mum?!"

However, the other week, I was not expecting that a journey in a lift would cause me to cry. Usually I take the stairs, although as I was short on time, I went in the lift. It was one of those lifts where there are doors on both sides. So I entered the lift, was ready to ride up when a lady got into the lift from the other doors. We exchanged pleasantries - not that I can really remember what was said - and when we reached the next floor, the lady went to leave the lift. As she walked out she turned to me and said, "I hope you have a great day." This was when the tears came!

So how was a lady I had never met before able to make me cry? Simply because she noticed me. She took the time to see me and gave a small part of herself in order to make a difference to somebody else. The lady showed kindness that took little effort yet was so significant. 

This simple kindness made me stop and think. How often do I rush through the moment, the day or the week, so preoccupied with all that I need to do, that I fail to notice the many opportunities that there are to show kindness?

My encounter with the lady in the lift challenged me to consider all the many people who cross my path each day. Do I really notice the people I see or even talk to as I go about my day? 
The lady who I see as I walk home from the school run, the shop assistant, the people who I work with, the mums who come to toddlers, the teachers, the person waiting to cross over the road, the lady at the post office, my children, my friends and family?
Do I notice them or am I too busy rushing from one thing to the next that I persuade myself that it is OK not to notice?

What if I did choose to notice? To give a small part of me to make a difference to somebody else. To share a smile or even take time to share conversation. To give a helping hand even though it might mean a slight change to my plans. To encourage somebody with a kind, thoughtful word or maybe even two, or three or four!

Choosing to notice might mean I have to go out of my way and maybe my plans might have to change, well hey, why shouldn't my plans be interrupted? If I spend my day looking out for me and all I feel I need, the only person that gains from that is me. However if I am willing to let kindness get in the way of my day, well hey, then that would be great! It also has a wonderful knock on effect...the lady in the lift was kind to me, therefore I wanted to pass that kindness on. 

So tomorrow, as the new day comes, I choose to notice and I hope by making that choice my day will be interrupted by opportunities to bring something brighter to those who might need it.