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Laugh and be happy

I grew up in Southern California where a few television stations were local only and not part of any network. One of these had children's shows around midday and in the afternoon. I had a song pop into my head the other day from one of those shows I watched probably 55 years ago. The host of the show was Sheriff John and even though he was more famous for his birthday song, it was his theme song, "Laugh And Be Happy" by Lee Penny, that kept popping into my head. Here are its lyrics:

Laugh and be happy and the world will laugh with you

When people see you smiling they can't help smiling too

When you look out your window to a dark and gloomy day

Break out a smile and in a while the gloom will go away

So laugh and be happy with a merry melody

A song will make a hat rack look like a Christmas tree

Get rid of worry in a hurry, chase the blues away

Just laugh and be happy all the live ... long ... day

So now you're asking, "What does a kid show on TV 55 years ago have to do with inner peace?"

This song suggests having a positive attitude. There's more to this than I ever gave credit to until recently. You see, our thoughts have power. When I first heard about positive thinking I remember saying "Yeah, right, I'll think positive until something goes wrong and then what?" Now I can see how this was short-sighted. Negative thoughts are kind of like a cycle that has built-up momentum. A few positive thoughts might slow it a little bit but it takes a concerted effort to really slow the negative cycle.

Try looking at this a different way. Watch your thoughts. When a thought pops in your head, ask yourself, "where did this come from?" This is becoming the observer. Observe every thought.

Sure, there are thoughts like paying attention while driving, performing your job at work and day-to-day things. But if you watch carefully, you will start to flag the ones that take your peace away.

These thoughts can be tricky. They can add with other thoughts and turn into stories that cause worry, anxiety or fear. Ask where these thoughts are coming from and you will realize that you are not your thoughts.

Here is where it gets good. If I am not my thoughts, I can elect to change my thoughts. I have the power as the observer to do that if I really want to. This is what has been happening with me. If I'm having one of those thoughts, I just change it for my song and the thought goes away.

With a little practice you will find yourself learning to laugh at thoughts of anger, worry, being a victim — the ones that go after your peace. As the cycle of negative thoughts slows, you will start to see a positive world because as you change your thoughts your perception of the world changes. The negative thoughts are no longer in control.

Here is one other approach. If you only had one more day to live you could listen to the negative thoughts and see how down you could get or you could choose to ignore those thoughts and do something that you love. You could make the most of that day. Remember what it was like to be a kid out playing without a care in the world? This is what I'm talking about. Treat everyday like it's the only one you have. Laugh and be happy. This will bring you inner peace.

You can hear Sheriff John sing this song by going to; http://www.televisiontunes.com/Sheriff_John_-_Laugh_and_Be_Happy.html

Mike Bradshaw works and lives in the Rogue Valley and walks his dogs daily.

Note: Thank the Inner Peace Article Contributors of 2011. All walks, faiths, paths, insights, lessons, revelations and experiences are welcome in this column. Send 600- to 700-word articles to Sally McKirgan at: innerpeaceforyou@live.com