Exploring and Encouraging a Healthy Life Marked with Joy

Archive for August, 2012


(Rhonda Byrne and The Secret)

JoyInciter # 4 — The Three Candles

Today I am sharing with you JoyInciter #4.  (Actually I briefly mentioned this strategy when I guest blogged on David’s terrific London-based 5thingstodotoday site recently.)

In my first post about JoyInciters, I defined them as a collection of simple practices or strategies which I use regularly to increase the level of happiness and joy in my life.  The first JoyInciter–the Thanksgiving Book (or Gratitude Journal), the second one–the Walking Into strategy, and the third–the Happiness Box,  are all techniques to make us more joyful in our day-to-day lives.

I love JoyInciter #4 — The Three Candles, because of its sensory simplicity yet powerful lesson.  Find three candles (any size or type will do).  Choose a quiet place where you can be comfortable and preferably alone.  Light your three candles.  Stare at them for a few seconds.  See the first candle as representing your past, the second your present, and the third your future.

Now move your awareness to the first candle.  The past.  Admit that you cannot really live in the past, it’s over, and regret is both painful and a useless waste of mental energy.  Living in the past keeps us out of healthy BALANCE mentally and even physically.  Bless the past with love as best you can … and let it go, as you blow the first candle out.  Release.

Now look at that third candle.  The future.  Realize you cannot reside in the future; it’s not here yet.  Worry about the future (like past-oriented regret) costs us our joyful mental health because we are trying to BE in a place where we never CAN be–the future.  Try saying this, “All will be well.  I will be well” and blow out candle #3.

Look at the second candle glowing in its oneness, its all-there-isness, its currentness, its presentness.  It’s your Now.  Think about this truth for a moment: the ONLY time any one of us ever really has is RIGHT NOW.  Everything is NOW.  When all is said and done, NOW is all there  is.  Keep this candle glowing for a few moments as you contemplate on a handful of positive aspects of your Now.

EnJoy JoyInciter #4 — The Three Candles.

“Make Someone Happy … and You Will Be Happy Too”

One of the many joys I treasure about my church, Asbury Memorial United Methodist here in Savannah, has to be the fact that both the Pastor (Rev. Billy Hester) and his wife (Cheri) have backgrounds as actors and singers on Broadway.  Really, I’m not kidding.  [Me, I have ALWAYS wanted to be able to say I have a background in something.  Something like, I don’t know, Child Movie Star or Discover of Element Boron or Transatlantic Swimmer, but so far all I have come up with is this: “Neal has a background in Really Enjoying Licking Postage Stamps.”  And that just sounds so dementedly tacky.]

Anyway, Rev Billy is a terrific sermonizer.  And yesterday’s “The Wisdom of Satchmo and the Great Schnozzola” made such an impression on me that I decided to share the essence of the lesson with you.  It takes two musical greats, Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Durante (Google or You Tube them, children) and examines how and why they had such amazingly influential careers and positively impacted so many, many people then and now (in spite of the fact that neither had very good singing voices–actually, quite the opposite.)

Rev. Billy posited that five factors contributed to Armstrong’s and Durante’s beloved greatness (and can also encourage us toward more joyful and effective lives).

1.  Phrasing.  In their music they understood the power of vocal phrasing.  They knew what to say and when to say it.  (If you listen to them both sing, much of their work sounds more like talking than actual singing.)  Likewise, we (well, I, for sure) need to concentrate on what we say, how we say it and when is the most opportune time to speak.

2.  Accompaniment.  Armstrong and Durante relied heavily on talented accompaniment to make their music top-notch.  The folks who inhabit my world (and yours) also have strong contribution to who and what we are.  Mama was right about the importance of who we hang with.  (Okay, maybe she didn’t say “hang with.”)

3.  They liked people.  Enough said.

4.  They were flexible and adaptable.  Both sang jazz, which is all about improvisation.  In their shows and concerts, Armstrong and Durante made mistakes but used them to their advantage, often causing an even greater end result.  Perhaps we should all just loosen up a bit.  (If you know me, the next time you see me, stop me and YELL “Loosen up, Neal!” in my face.  Thank you.)

5. They both had tremendous senses of humor.  And they could laugh at themselves.  I guess they had to, with names like Satchmo (big mouth) and Schnozzola (big nose).  Of course, I’m a fine one to talk, with my big head.  (The next time you see me, DO NOT STARE AT MY HEAD.  Thank you.)

As the pastor brought to life these two musical legends, he impersonated each one WITH FUNNY BUT AMAZING ACCURACY. With Jimmy Durante, Rev. Billy introduced and discussed these encouraging lyrics of the classic “Make Someone Happy”:

“Make someone happy,
Make just one someone happy,
And you will be happy, too.”

Here’s the actual (very short) song.  I encourage you to take a moment and listen to it.

Now being the World Famous Blogger that I am, I hereby issue you, Faithful Blog Followers, a CHALLENGE:


This last week of August 2012

set your goal

to make at least one person

with whom you come in contact



How?  There are a myriad of ways.  Brainstorm a bit.  I’m asking that you share with us here on the blog a little about your experience with the challenge.  What a difference we can make in other people’s worlds.  Try it!

(Click on the link below to see Rev Billy in action and view the entire sermon.)

The Wisdom of Satchmo & the Great Schnozzola

And here’s a very cool video of Armstrong and Durante singing together:

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