Be of Good Cheer!

Be of Good Cheer!

For many people, the holidays come with a heightened level of happiness. Reuniting with friends and family and remembering the blessings of the year, they experience a deeper sense of joy and gratitude. 

Yet for Christians, joy should be a constant element that transcends circumstances and endures apart from yearly celebrations. After all, joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. (See Galatians 5:22.) Scripture proclaims, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15). The Bible is clear: God wants His children to be happy. 

Of course, happiness has an impact that extends beyond mere emotions; it can provide a boost to our bodies that may be measured even at a genetic level. We’ve all read, “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22)—but it seems there are conditions to this promise. The most beneficial effect is realized if happiness is obtained in unselfish ways. 

In one study, for instance, joy gained through self-gratification increased inflammation in research participants, while happiness achieved by a giving attitude and generous actions lowered inflammation levels and even enhanced the type of gene expression that battles invading microbes.1 

Regardless of the many challenges of life, we can take practical steps to maximize the joy in our lives. Here are a few ways you can experience increased happiness right now: 

1. PRACTICE GRATITUDE. All of us, regardless of circumstances, have things to be thankful for. Write down your grateful thoughts on a regular basis, and you’ll gradually become more aware of the blessings in your life. 

2. SMILE MORE. You may not always feel like it, but even a forced smile dupes your brain into thinking you’re happy. It complies by ramping up the immune system and triggering chemicals that relieve stress and make you feel better—among other benefits.2 

3. TRY EXERCISE. Perhaps you cringe at the “E” word. But don’t panic; you don’t need to run a marathon to benefit. Engaging in simple aerobic activities, such as walking or gardening, for just 20 to 30 minutes can dramatically improve your mindset. 

4. HARNESS MUSIC! Listening to, performing, or even humming hymns or upbeat classical music has tremendous cheering power that can rapidly transform your mood. Even if you already feel cheerful, bring yourself higher with music; let your praise to God bubble over in song. This advice comes from Scripture: “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13). 

5. FOLLOW JESUS’ EXAMPLE. Although our Savior was “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3)—as we often are—He didn’t remain in a state of sadness; He always looked to His Father for positive guidance and turned His attention to those in need. Following His example of assisting, praying for, and encouraging others is sure to gladden our own hearts. 

“Be of good cheer” was one of Jesus’ hallmark phrases (Matthew 9:2, 22; 14:27; John 16:33). Ask Him today to help you find more joy in your world—and you may well reap greater physical, emotional, and spiritual health throughout the holidays and beyond!  

1 https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/30/health/happy-genes 

2 https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/smiling-can-trick-your-brain-happiness-boost-your-health-ncna822591

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