I listen to the “Today Show” a lot in the mornings while I’m getting ready for the day. On occasion, I leave it on instead of flipping to my favorite radio show or listening to a podcast on my IPOD. When I do, I love to listen to Willard Scott do the “Smuckers” Happy Birthday segment. I consistently am in awe as I hear of men and women celebrating their 100th or 110th birthdays.
One of my favorite parts of this segment is hearing Willard talk about the birthday person and what they attribute their secret of longevity to. I hear a wide range of answers – things from “my beautiful spouse,” “traveling,” “a good stiff drink,” “my faith,” or “good friends.” I find it fascinating that these answers range from loving relationships, beliefs in God, and hobbies to habits that would otherwise be thought to shorten a lifespan because they are unhealthy!
One common denominator I’ve seen in these “centenarians” is that everything anyone suggests or attributes to being able to live a good long life encompasses joy. Whether it’s a person, an activity, or a habit – it has brought these individuals great joy.
On my cell phone I have a saying that I typed into the screen. When you open it up it says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Joy. God gives us our joys. He strengthens us in those joys. Joy can heal us when we are emotionally wounded or physically unwell. It’s well-said that laughter is great medicine! Why? Because it brings us joy. So it stands to reason that joy also extends life.
There is so much to be stressful about. We can get wrapped up in the fact that so-and-so hurt our feelings or we don’t have the amount of money that we want. We can engage in so many battles that only deepen our worry lines and our frowns instead of deepening our smiles.
My quest this year is to find what these “Smuckers” birthday celebrants have found. Deep joy. I want to access the joy that I know that God wants to hand to me on a daily basis. I want to laugh more often and deeper. I want to smile, celebrate, and love with pure contented joy in simply being alive. And if I’m lucky enough, someday Willard (or his successor) will be saying my name and wishing me a happy 100th birthday. Oh what joy that will bring me.