Children remind us to treasure the smallest of gifts, even in the most difficult of times. Erma Bombeck found this out when she was doing research for her book about kids with cancer, I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise. Dealing with cancer herself, Bombeck remembers one eight-year-old diagnosed with cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, Christina answered after much thought, “I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have every-thing!”
In spite of the difficulties life has handed them, kids manage to have fun. Bombeck says, “If they have one leg, they will jump into a puddle of water with it. If they pass a mirror reflecting their baldhead, they will stick out their tongue in defiance. If you put ’em in a wheelchair, they’ll find another one to race.”
No matter what has happened, you too have the power to enjoy yourself. One woman told me how her young son helped her do this and to relish life again after her husband was killed in an accident. Thinking his mother could not see him, the ten-month-old child hid, stark naked, behind an open-meshed chain link fence. At that moment, it became clear to her that she could not raise her son with solemnity. She says, “I resolved that I was going to find things to enjoy in life. The playful child was a turning point for me to realize that no matter what we have lost or gone through we can still find joy.”
Getting more enjoyment and pleasure in your life is the key to not only staying happier but healthier as well. “The healthiest people,” say researchers, “seem to be pleasure-loving, pleasure-seeking, pleasure-creating individuals.” Another researcher verified this. While investigating seven miracle cancer-cure cases, he found that all revised their lives to include more pleasure.
Since our minds can only focus on one thing at a time, these findings make sense. When we are doing something we enjoy, we are taking our minds off of things we don’t, things that stress us out and perhaps lead to illness. Isn’t it interesting how we schedule nearly everything—business meetings, medical appointments, luncheon engagements, etc.—but we neglect to plan time for our own enjoyment?
Take a lesson from a child. Find something you really enjoy and go do it. Eda LeShan, an author and family counselor, says, “I’ve been riding the carousel in Central Park since I was five years old. Back then there were silver and gold rings. You had to get five silver rings or one gold ring to get a free ride. . . .” Now, “If I’m very depressed or if something’s bothering me today,” notes LeShan, “my husband, Larry, and I go back to the park. We get on the carousel horse and we start riding…it is pure and absolute joy and happiness.”