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You are what you do, not what you say.

© Catherine Ripplinger Fenwick

People sometimes call me the "humour lady" because I speak and write about generating more healthy humour in our lives. This does not mean that I laugh all of the time. I also take many things seriously; things like my values, my family, health, work, and play, of course. A healthy environment is serious stuff.

I also have learned to lighten up and not worry so much about the things I have no control over. Life’s lessons can be hard and there are things that simply cannot be controlled. Having learned the hard way, I now mostly live by the motto of the Serenity Prayer: "Grant me the strength to change the things I can change; the courage to accept the things that can’t be changed; and the wisdom to know the difference."

We can use up a lot of time and energy worrying. One solution is to focus on the task at hand. Work when we are working, play when we are playing, rest when we are resting. Be the best we can be and accept our limitations. We all have them. No one can do or be all things, though many of us try. If we worry about things we can’t control we burn up energy needed for living healthfully. Instead we could channel that energy toward making a difference. I always say, "Don’t sweat the small stuff, most of it is small stuff, and the big stuff is a test of our courage and ability to handle life."

The humour lady does sometimes feel despair, but not for long. I usually let feelings of helplessness and hopelessness mull around just long enough to generate enough energy to get my creative juices flowing. Then I get going and do something.

Dr. David Suzuki in his latest and most inspiring book, The Sacred Balance, repeats many times this excellent phrase, "you are what you do, not what you say." So I say to myself, "what can I do today to make the world a healthier place?" This reminder each day leads me to reduce, recycle, re-use, write letters (ie; protesting the use of chemicals that are known carcinogens, the signing of the Multilateral Agreement on Investments MAI), plant trees, hug trees, appreciate what nature has to offer, and generally respect the sacred balance of life. "As the earth’s health goes, so goes our own," says Dr. Suzuki. Environmental work is preventive medicine.

A life affirming environment is psychologically compatible with human needs for belonging, community, safety, security, validation, personal growth and hope. Hope is the manifestation of the profound resilience of the human spirit. We know there is always some small thing we can do to make our own life better and in that way make the earth a healthier and happier place. Ask yourself, "What can I do today to make my life a little bit better?" If you do one thing each day, in one year you will have done 365 things to make your life healthier and happier. It’s got to make a difference!


Cathy Fenwick is a therapist, author and educator. She develops and delivers workshops and keynotes on how to get more healthy humour into your life.

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