"A happy heart makes the face cheerful" (Proverbs 15:13).
Abraham Lincoln once observed, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." In 1831 Lincoln failed in business; in 1832 he was defeated for the legislature; in 1833 he again failed in business; in 1835 his sweetheart died; in 1836 he had a nervous breakdown; in 1843 he was defeated for Congress; in 1855 he was defeated for the Senate; in 1856 he lost the race for the vice presidency; in 1858 he was defeated for the Senate; in 1860 he was elected President of the United States and, while president, two of his sons died. Although history has lionized Lincoln greatly, there is little doubt that he climbed to the summit of his Calvary hills. Yet one of his most memorable traits was his lively sense of humor!
"A cheerful heart is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22 RSV). "Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and are famous preservers of youthful looks" (Charles Dickens). The opposite of cheer is worry. Henry Ward Beecher warned us, "It is not work that kills men; it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more upon a man than he can bear. Worry is the rust upon the blade." It also gives us worry wrinkles.
A cheerful heart is a contented heart. Discontent is a poison that spreads through our system when we decide that someone else is brighter, or has more than we do, or is happier than we are. Change only two letters and we go from content to contempt. The word contentious begins with content. Perhaps we need to lop off the I-O-U-S from our life and get back to being content! It's too easy to get bogged down in what we think others owe us.