Ask Auntie Leila: Cheerfulness

Dear Jenni writes:

Dear Auntie Leila,

Please share how you stay cheerful.

Thank you,

Dear Jenni,

I had to chuckle at this question, first, because it was certainly an examination of conscience! “Am I cheerful??” “Do I stay cheerful??”

It assumes a lot — about me!

Second, because I was instantly thrown into one of those “I would have to write a three-volume work to answer this question” situations, so it took me a while to respond with a “I’ll answer you on the blog!”

But let’s keep it snappy.

To “remain” (God willing!) cheerful, even in the midst of suffering and undeniable misfortune that is our lot, at least occasionally, here on earth, not to mention the darkness we all sense pressing down on us, we need to know that our true home is not here.

And in heaven, everyone is surely cheerful!

Good cheer is a matter of the rock-solid foundation under the storm clouds, roiling waters, and even murky depths of life. That solid foundation is and must be faith in God and His goodness, and in our sure knowledge that His desire to have us with Him.

Practically, allow me, in the humblest way possible, to offer a few things to think about this Lent, if we find ourselves less than cheerful. Who, me??

Don’t let the late winter season get you down, if you live anywhere where Spring seems far off. Remind yourself that it will be here soon and this time is a good one to attend to a few indoor matters, such as these:

Make things Reasonably Clean, Fairly Neat, and Comfortably Tidy. Go over the archives to understand how to do this without becoming overwhelmed, and start with your own bedroom.

Know, if you are homeschooling especially, that February Blues happen everywhere, even in “the best” schools. Experiencing them is not a failure, and the cure is a little change of pace and, again, a good tidy, with a focus on the school areas and supplies.

Creativity is important to well being. This Lent — like, this weekend — do something to line up a creative activity for yourself that can be easily picked up and put down or tackled for a half hour here and there; something that you enjoy, that energizes you.



My cheerfulness soars when I have spent even a few minutes each day in some creative endeavor or even in clearing the decks to get ready for that creative endeavor.

I observe women chafe and begin to think that leaving home for outside work is the solution to their boredom and sadness, when really, it’s that they haven’t given their feminine urge to make beauty around them a chance.

Here we pause for a Finished Knitted Object (actually two), since I’m always posting things in process or even in the very usual state of being ripped out, as I am an avid but not terribly fast or good knitter:


I did make a lot of mittens and even a sweater for me last year, but neglected to share them. This little set is for my new granddaughter, Veronica. I hope it fits her! I have been practicing…


I will put my notes over on Ravelry soon.

I hasten to add, though: I don’t mean beauty in any necessarily unreachable or expensive way, but in the sense of creating a fittingness and order just where you are, to radiate care and love.

Order and wonder are qualities that the woman of the home provides and will make her and those around her more cheerful.

Use social media for what it’s really good at (vs. inciting your comparison appetite or making you discontent): giving you ideas and visuals for living more frugally and creatively; for, as Chesterton says, thrift is the true adventure, and what is more cheering than an adventure?

The cheerfulness quotient is higher when we are, with a vigorous heart, making do. There is so much available to help you figure out how to use what you have more wisely, which in turn will help you feel confident.

Cheerfulness is not for victims — it’s for those who accept the situation and see what they can do to make it better, patiently. Seeing how others do this is so helpful, so yay internet for that!

Drop the habit of glumness that may even have been picked up in early childhood. Sparkle up your eyes and your emotions may very well follow.

Don’t confuse the natural cheerfulness some are born with and the interior decision to be cheerful due to the love God has for us, a love so strong that He accepted death on a cross for it, for me, for you; this latter kind of cheerfulness can be made into a new habit, reflected in our very face, and we owe it in charity to others to at least try to obtain it!

Cultivate a sense of humor. Practice finding the funny side of things. Don’t laugh immoderately, of course, but do be ready to chuckle.

Imitate the people you know who have the charming ability to make fun of themselves! Have you done something dumb? Learn to say, out loud, “Well, that was dumb!” Some mental illness can be cleared up with the willingness readily to admit that indeed, I am not perfect.

Learn merriment in your expressions and forego the tendency to moan and groan. I know I appreciate a person who greets me with a smile and even a loving inflection in speaking my name; it would be loving my neighbors to offer them the same warmth.



Ladies, be less emotive. Social media rewards those who are emotional and most of that emotionalism is aimed at women. Spot its manipulations in its catchphrases and bywords. Don’t contribute to it.

Those with a good sense of humor can mount a defense, a defense that is necessary because the problem with indulging your emotions is that the sad, tearful ones get way more mileage with those willing to entertain them, so you just get… sadder!

Sadness is inevitable and appropriate, but take care to remind yourself and others by your reactions that there is light.

Get up and walk around — go outside! Everyone urges us to do this, so I won’t dwell on it, but often we all need what Rosie calls “an attitude adjustment walk.” If we are here in the icy North, it may be a walk around the house, but whatever it is, let’s get moving. Certainly, plan your garden if at all possible! Gardening gets me outside (as do the chickens) and is a life-saver.

Let us be merry, even in adversity — especially in adversity!

Tell us in the comments, if you would, what you do to have a holy cheerfulness!

“Grant me a heart that knows nothing of boredom, weeping and sighing. Let me not be concerned with the bothersome thing I call ‘myself’. Lord, give me a sense of humor and I will find happiness in life and profit for others.” – St. Thomas More


bits & pieces


  • My friend Paul Jernberg posted the video of the Mass for Persecuted Christians from last fall, offered in my own parish church. It features his compositions and a completely sung Novus Ordo Mass. There are some who work hard to bring beauty into this world, and Paul is definitely one of them! I took part in the choir and was greatly moved by the worship, music, and homily. Please remember our brethren in the Middle East.






  • Jane Austen, the cheerful author! Yes, we women can overcome the temptation to emotionalism and Be Like Jane: Fr. Longenecker writes, “Where is the feminine genius in all of [what C. S. Lewis sees in Austen]? It is in the fact that the novels are comedies. Jane Austen deals with serious themes lightly. She observes the foolish vanity of her characters with a wry smile and the kind of sharp satirical wit that is feminine through and through. A man writing satire is likely to be sarcastic, overbearing, and cruel. He may deal with such serious themes with a heavy hand, a wordy exposition, or a philosophical speech. A woman dismisses such ponderous sermonizing and scores points with the sly comment, the wicked witticism, and the observation that is damning with faint praise.”

from the archives


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