Sunday, July 31, 2016

Proverbs 17:22 -- On Having Merry Hearts

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones."
Proverbs 17:22

Today in church one of the lessons used a quotation from Boyd K Packer: "Find happiness in ordinary things, and keep your sense of humor," which got me wondering what the scriptures had to say on the subject.  In looking a little bit, I found that there is no admonition about the word "humor," but there are clear messages that we should have hope, and be merry, cheerful, and happy.

One of the reasons the scriptures might not say anything about humor itself is that it can be used in a bad way.  Mockery, bitterness, and inappropriate language and subjects are often seen as humorous.  When President Packer asked us to keep a sense of humor, he didn't mean that sort of humor.  He meant that we need to be able to maintain a good perspective, to find happiness wherever we are, and to find the fun in life.  Kind of like this verse.  When we are able to be merry, it heals us, and negative thoughts are banished.

We don't have room to be paranoid, anxious, or depressed when we are having fun.  Now, sometimes people need assistance in order to break themselves out of negative emotions, and I am not saying that it is easy, even when we don't.  Emotions can be strong, and we often allow them to control us and take us to dark places, rather than guiding them into productive paths.  In our efforts though, good humor definitely helps.  It gives us a boost when we have outlets that allow us some laughter and amusement, and witty banter with friends and family is part of that.

While being merry, of course, we still need to have respect for the things that are sacred, and we need to maintain reverence for God and the gospel.  We're often counseled about "loud laughter" for just this reason.  Not because there isn't a time and a place for fun, or that God doesn't have a sense of humor, for he surely does, but because often when we're being loud we're not listening to the spirit, and we're allowing our enjoyment to interfere with the peace of those around us.

Today, let's have merry hearts, and let's allow positive emotion to banish the negative thoughts from our lives.  Let's look to God, and if we can't find something to be happy about, let's ask God to show us some things.  We have so many blessings, and God's plan is the plan of *happiness* for a reason.  He doesn't want any of us to be sad or morose.  Let's find the joy, and help the people around us to rejoice as well. :)

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