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The Joy Workout

The New York Times recently included “The Joy Workout”video in its daily newsletter. Of course, I had to try it, uncoordinated as I am, and then I kept the tab open for a long time, thinking I’d do it every day. (Did I? No. Why don’t we do things that we know will make us feel good?) It really does make you feel joyful! Six parts–reach, sway, bounce, shake, jump for joy, celebrate–get your heart going and not just in the physical sense. The whole thing will make you smile. Movement is a truly wonderful thing.

Smiling is, too. I’m here to tell you it is pretty hard not to smile while shaking, bouncing, and pretend throwing confetti into the air. Did you know that smiling takes way fewer muscles than frowning? We all know people who smile a lot. It’s fun to be around them, I feel. Do you remember in Eat Pray Love, the meditation teacher in Bali who told Elizabeth Gilbert to smile during meditation? All the way to her belly button, as I recall. 🙂

A favorite meditation of mine has Jeff Warren teaching on enjoying the body, “tripping out on the feeling of, yes, having a body . . . grooving on the feeling of breathing, of having a body . . . just a pleasure-loving hippie truant at an Allman Brothers show.” Don’t you love it? I do. And it never fails to give me the feeling of “relaxed enjoyment” (quiet happiness) that he’s going for.

In the musical “Hair” there’s a song “I Got Life.” It’s a raucous celebration of life, of being alive, of having a body, along with blood, toes, teeth, headaches, toothaches, muscles, a liver, etc. . . Give it a listen, do the Joy Workout or better yet, do the Joy Workout while listening to “I Got Life.” Whoa! There’s a great combo! Guaranteed happiness.

Our bodies are the only things we truly own and while they may fail us at some point or cause us trouble, they’re ours. If they’re working at all, even poorly, we’ve got to be grateful that we have them. And if they’re working well, by God, we need to celebrate that!

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m on a quest to counter, in any way I can, the negativity in the world–the news, the horrors, the huge problems–all of which has a tendency to settle in our bodies, hearts and minds. I think we need to fill ourselves up with nourishing, happy sights, sounds, words, and thoughts to ward off the ills of all the bleak, gloomy input assaulting us every day. It’s sort of like exercising, eating healthy food and taking vitamins to fight off illness. We all need our daily dose of Vitamin J. I do, anyway.

I hope you are doing well!

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel

“We are never more than one grateful thought away from peace of heart.”― Brother David Steindl-Rast

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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