Some weeks ago, our guest columnist was Steve Wilson, founder of the World Laughter Tour. This week, I want to highlight one of his books titled "Good Hearted Living" and make an application of it to "good-hearted marriage."
In the book, Wilson makes the case that so much of our lives are determined by our attitudes. He further opines that we as a people tend to get so caught up in the stress and busyness of life that we fail to laugh as much as we should.
In response to this unhealthy situation, Wilson devised what he calls "six super solutions," which he considers to be "the best antidotes to attitudes that take our laughter away." The first of these solutions is "compliments," which help us refrain from the tendency to be overly critical, negative and judgmental.
Next is "flexibility" to keep from becoming rigid and narrow-minded in our thinking, which can lead to habits and then ruts.
Wilson's third super solution is "gratitude," a wonderful counter to self-pity and the "misery-producing desire for more."
Fourth on the list is "kindness," and oh how we could use an extra measure of that in our daily lives to protect against only looking out for ourselves.
Forgiveness is next and serves as an antidote for anger and other self-crippling ailments. Ken Sande, author of "The Peacemaker," claims that "unforgiveness is the poison we drink, expecting the other person to die."
And, finally, the sixth solution Wilson calls "chocolate." While the first five solutions deal with how we should treat others, chocolate is about self-nurture and focusing on "restoring joy, leisure, pleasure and sweetness to life."
What especially intrigues me about "Good Hearted Living" is that Wilson outlines a day-by-day plan for implementing these solutions, or practices, until they become habitual.
Each Monday, he suggests, should be a day to focus on giving sincere, heartfelt compliments to those with whom you come in contact. Someone once told me that love in Greek means "to look for the good." I'm not so certain that is linguistically correct, but it is a great concept and I join Steve Wilson in encouraging you to focus each Monday on giving compliments.
Tuesdays could be devoted to flexibility where you challenge yourself to be open to new ideas, new experiences and new opportunities to engage in this wonderful adventure of life. As a personal example, while I hold to a particular political viewpoint I frequently challenge myself to investigate the views of those who hold dissimilar views. I believe this helps me be a better grounded and better-rounded citizen.
Wednesdays can be lots of fun as you seek to express gratitude for the many blessings in your life. In "Good Hearted Living," Wilson states "true gratitude works like a magnifying glass. The more you feel grateful for what you have, the better you can see all your blessings."
Life can truly be difficult at times and if you're not careful the negatives may seem to far outweigh the positives. Developing the weekly habit of expressing gratitude can serve to keep you in better balance.
Kindness, you may have guessed, is the focus for Thursdays. Now, of course, you need not limit your expressions of kindness to just one day each week, but by making it a weekly experience you will find yourself acting with more kindness toward others as a regular component of your life.
You've long heard the expression "Thank God It's Friday." My hunch is you'll be even more thankful as you purpose each Friday to practice forgiveness. Trust me there are people in your life who will hurt you from time-to-time and who will benefit from being forgiven by you. Yet it is not only them who will benefit, in fact I believe the greatest benefit of forgiveness goes to the giver more than to the receiver. I like what Wilson says in "Good Hearted Living," that "if you know you will eventually forgive someone, why waste time? Forgive them now."
After a week of focusing on treating others well you need not feel any sense of guilt for using the weekends to focus on your own needs. In fact, by dong some focused self-nurture on weekends you will be much better able to be a blessing to others during the ensuing week. By purposely taking the time to refresh physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually on the weekends you'll likely find your work week to be far more productive and rewarding.
Hopefully, it is somewhat obvious to you by now as to why I am writing about "Good Hearted Living" in a column directed towards marriage enrichment. If practicing these concepts will enhance your relationships with yourself and others do you think there is a fair-to-middling chance it will have a positive impact on your marriage? I am so tempted to say "DUH!" but I will resist the temptation.
As I have written several times, productive and healthy marriage does not require work — it requires focus and attention. So I hope you've appreciated these encouraging words of wisdom from Steve Wilson's book "Good Hearted Living." You should consider purchasing a copy at www.worldlaughtertour.com. You'll also find lots of useful resources there for how laughter and humor can make life far more healthy and enjoyable.
In closing, this is also my last opportunity to remind you to get your tickets for the Couple Checkup Conference at the Farmington Civic Center this coming Saturday, March 15. Ron Deal will be equipping folks with knowledge and skills to enhance any marriage. Tickets are available at the Civic Center and more information is available at www.fccmf.org. This will be an uplifting, fun event devoid of male or female bashing. Marriage is tricky business at times and learning from experts just seems like a wise decision to me.
In the morning session, Deal will be presenting on how to "Empowered to Love" and "Putting Out Fires So You Can Live in Peace." This will be helpful to folks who are dating, engaged, married or remarried. It is intended to help folks in good relationships who want to be in a great relationship, and for folks in a hurting relationship to get healthy again.
In the afternoon he will be presenting a bonus session targeted specifically to blended families. He will give great advice for how to be a step-mom, a step-dad, a step-us.