A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, a broken heart crushes the spirit. – Proverbs 15:13
Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine.
A smile is better than a frown. Modern brain chemistry research has discovered that when we smile, the movements of the muscles in the face trigger the brain to release endorphins. True smiles, called Duchenne smiles, boost our mood through the endorphins bumped out into the body. A Duchenne smile engages the entire face, including the mouth and eyes. When a Duchenne smile reaches the eyes, it makes the corners wrinkle up with crow’s feet. Such smiles are authentic expressions of happiness or joy.
Endorphins are a type of brain chemical called neurotransmitters. The term endorphin is contracted from “endogenous morphine.” Endorphins are “feel good” natural opiates of the human body. They lower stress levels and produce feelings of contentment and/or happiness, even euphoria.
The researchers studying Duchenne smilers concluded that happiness resulted in definite health benefits. Duchenne smilers have a 70% chance of living until age 80 compared with 50% for non-smilers.
So there is something to the song “Put on A Happy Face” sung by Dick Van Dyke in the musical Bye Bye Birdie.
Gray skies are gonna clear up
Put on a happy face
Brush off the clouds and cheer up
Put on a happy face
And spread sunshine all over the place
And put on a happy face
Modern research has only confirmed what Solomon knew 3000 years ago.
Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
Proverbs 15:13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face.
Happiness expresses itself on a person’s face. The Hebrew can literally be translated word for word, “A joyful heart makes good faces.” This thought can be expressed, “A happy person has a happy face,” “Happiness makes the eyes bright,” or “If a person is happy, everyone sees it in his face” (UBS).
REFLECT & PRAY
A cheerful heart and smile are reflective of our inner reality, not external circumstances.
Father You and Your joy abide within me. Show Your presence and joy in my face.
A cheerful face indicates a positive attitude towards life. When the inner self is healthy, the heart is joyful, it cannot help but show in the face.
A cheerful heart and face are good medicine that can release tension and emotional stress from within.
Our inner spiritual well-being or the lack thereof affects our physical, mental, and emotional health. Anger, tension, or bitterness threaten our relationship with the Father and others.
How do we get on the right side of this? Paul is quite straightforward in his exhortation. If we are prone to bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, or slander, we are to get rid of it.
Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
The word translated get rid of or put away in Greek is airo. Airo primarily means to lift up or raise. Idiomatically has the sense of no longer experience, do away with, take away, or even remove by force.
It is like making a New Year’s resolution or determining to lose weight and get in better physical shape. You make a decision, but then you put pressure on yourself to follow through.
Getting rid of bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, or slander is no easy task. But it is a doable task. Yet how many of us struggle with this very thing repeatedly. It is a matter of resolution and follow-through.
Paul shows the way. For him, it is as simple as changing clothes. We are to put off the old clothes and put on the new. But at the same time, it requires tremendous determination and diligence. He likens it to forcefully putting to death our sinful nature, old nature, and assuming our new nature.
5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.
7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world.
8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.
9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.
10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
How do we get to where we need to be?
Many of us are stuck in a rut. We are easily offended and respond in anger, rage, heated words, cursing, and lack of love. For children of the King, this behavior is not acceptable. Practicing correct behavior is non-negotiable. It is a must.
The Father has already provided all that is needed to make this a reality for each child of the King.
From Paul’s perspective, it is already a present reality. We merely actualize it.
Colossians 3:9 You have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.
Romans 6:6 Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.
How we react is determined by our perspective and the condition of our hearts. The Holy Spirit working within us has provided new resources that allow us to rise above purely natural reactions. Our reaction to any situation is a choice.