Ann Bryan Smollin is an international lecturer on wellness and spirituality. An educator and therapist, she holds a Ph.D. in counseling from Walden University in Florida and is presently Executive Director of the Counseling for Laity center in Albany, New York. She is the author of Tickle Your Soul (1999) and God Knows You're Stressed (2001).
In this sprightly paperback, Smollin sets out to help us discover humor and holiness in everyday moments. She tells the story of a priest friend who was suffering through a difficult situation. When asked how he was dealing with it, he responded: "Each day I have a holy hour and I have a happy hour!" Smollin thinks all of us could benefit from that schedule. We need a holy hour to grow in faith and draw closer to God. And we all could use a happy hour: "They can be moments in our days where we give ourselves life-giving seconds to breathe deeply in the moment, relaxing our bodies. I believe happy hours can be holy hours as well; they are the present moments when we choose to live intentionally, allowing those times to touch us in the depth of our souls. We become refreshed."
Smollin has many good ideas on how to access more joy. She suggests a humor buddy with whom we can laugh and be carefree. Also we could keep a joy journal, similar to a gratitude journal, where we record every day the things that bring us happiness. Throughout the book, she shares stories from all religious traditions which point to the peculiarities of human nature and the indirections of the Holy One. At one point, Smolin admonishes us to remember that LAUGHTER:
"Lightens the load;
Gathers people together;
Tickles the soul;
Energizes the human spirit; and
Restores us to wholeness and holiness."
According to an old French proverb, "The most completely lost of all days is the one in which we have not laughed." Smollin agrees and points out that this tonic is good for the mind, body, and soul. The Qur'an states, "They deserve paradise who make their companions laugh." The author says that in the Old Testament there are 57 references to laughter and 27 recognized forms of humor. In the New Testament there are 287 references to such terms as joy, delight, gladness, laughter, and rejoicing. Smollin makes a good case for bringing more of all these into your life; better yet, makes them into spiritual practices!