“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.

 Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened,

 vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Helen Keller, author and disability advocate

Visit any pharmacy and you’ll find hundreds of bottles of medication all created to ease your pain and suffering. But there is one prescription missing from that shelf that you should be taking. You’ll find instructions for it in the Bible. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

The world famous silent film comic Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted. Yes, I know. Everything that happens is not funny. But sooner or later, if you’re going to survive, you have to get in touch with your funny bone. Let’s have another look at the Bible. Psalm 30:5 says “Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.”

Political journalist Norman Cousins explained in his best selling book, Anatomy of an Illness, how laughter helped save him from a painful tissue disease. He became unhappy with the hospital food and the way the doctors were treating him. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he checked himself out of the hospital and into a hotel room. He began watching hour after hour of comedy films and television shows.

Doctors gave him a 1 in 500 chance of recovery. With his own prescription of laughter therapy he began to improve his condition. And in time outlived his doctors dismal predictions by 26 years.

When it comes to what direction your life’s journey takes remember, your attitude has the wheel.

With that in mind, listen to the wisdom of doctor and running champion George Sheehan who wrote “Disease, then, is one of those bad experiences that turns information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. The bad experiences that make you love yourself and your body and the world. And make you know that you are in a game that has to have a happy ending.”  

When I became a marathon runner in the mid eighties, one of the first books I read on the subject was, Running and Being, by Dr. Sheehan. He talked about the final miles of a race he was in. The streets were lined with spectators cheering and shouting words of encouragement. As he passed one young boy, he heard him say, “Smile and it won’t hurt as much.”

That, seems to me, is good advice no matter what your injury or struggle may be. In fact, the people whose job it is to study smiles report at the very least it takes 10 muscles to smile and only 6 to frown.

So for a better workout, start by smiling.

*            *            *

“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing moving at different speeds.

A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.”

William James, psychologist and philosopher



  1. Excellent advice. I’d always heard the opposite about the number of muscles it takes to smile or frown. I heard it takes more to frown, so frowning makes you work harder, and if you don’t want to work so hard, you should smile. That never seemed right to me. It feels like it takes more muscles to smile, but even if it does make you work harder, you feel better. This is keeping with the idea that hardship, etc., builds character. Using all 10 muscles improves health and happiness, so smile away!


  2. Hello Marie, Thanks for reading my essay. I think you may be right about the number of muscles which means I made a mistake. either way, I’m going to keep smiling and I hope you do too. All the best. Jerry


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