Cultivating Cheerfulness

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere, and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence… [A Morning Resolve]

A good person, but not someone you’d want to go out for a beer with.

That’s most of the people I knew during my doctoral years at Princeton Seminary – faculty, administration, and students. There were notable exceptions, maybe 20% of the total population altogether. It isn’t as if the other 80% weren’t interesting, sincere, intelligent, or well-meaning: they were. It’s just that they weren’t particularly fun to be around outside a classroom. They were serious people with serious things to ponder and accomplish, and they had little time or patience for shared laughter and fun. Did I come across the same way?

As there were no classes on cultivating cheerfulness, and very few professors capable of teaching such a class if there had been, maybe a different kind of mentor was needed- someone who was comfortable enough in the non-academic world to help those who weren’t. It’s not just learning the social skills to talk with a wide range of people: it’s seeing in a stranger something of value, even before beginning a conversation. It’s knowing that there’s a whole wide world of fascinating people and ideas to explore, and being grateful for the opportunity to do so with whomever happens to be there at the time.

To lighten someone’s day, and to get a kick out of the world in general – that’s a spiritual gift worth cultivating.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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