It’s in the small things

Kim Potgieter shares how the secret to staying young at heart can be found in the small things in life

Life isn’t always easy and so it’s no surprise that we get bogged down from time to time.  It’s also true that difficulties are unavoidable, and that it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be happy every minute of every day.  But I do feel that we tend to take life too seriously sometimes.  We forget that ultimately, everything is going to be okay.  We forget to smell the roses.

“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.”  Stephen Vincent Benèt

A few weekends ago my seven year old daughter Gabi begged me to jump on the trampoline with her at the Vaal Dam.  Well, I’m sure it had been about 30 years since last I jumped on a trampoline and the experience had me in stitches.  And the more I laughed the more Gabi begged me to jump.  Remember, when you’re jumping up and down, so too is every part of your body.  But once you can get past that uncomfortable sensation, it’s actually a kind of freedom.  It was totally out of character for me, but I loved every moment of it.  That was, of course, until my 12 year old Josh came past and muttered to me how embarrassing I appeared.

It’s moments like these that make their mark on our lives.  I believe the secret to staying young at heart is to laugh, and I’m convinced we don’t do it often enough.  It’s the easiest and cheapest mood-booster, and the key to laughing often, lies in the enjoyment of simple pleasures.

What happens when we laugh?  Well, there are actual physiological changes that take place.  Muscles in our face and body contract, our pulse quickens, our blood pressure rises, and we breathe faster which floods our tissues with oxygen.  According to Robert R. Provine, a psychology professional at the University of Maryland, other positive effects include raised levels of infection-fighting antibodies in the body, lower blood sugar levels and improved sleep.

If the trampoline seems like too much of a challenge, I can also recommend a games night if you are looking for a giggle.  We were recently in the Drakensburg with some friends and settled in to an evening of games.  We chose couples Pictionary and laughed till the tears ran down our cheeks.  It was the most fun we’d had in ages.

My challenge this month is to focus on the small things and to laugh as often as possible.

And remember, having fun doesn’t have to be extravagant, and is more often than not, a matter of perspective.

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