Some days, you’re a shark and you attack the day. Other days, you’re a slug, eking your way from coffee to coffee. You can be a light-on-your-feet gazelle with a song in your heart and stars in your eyes, a make-a-way bulldozer come hell or high water, a whirlwind of tasks, a languid cat, a frightened pigeon.

But what if you could be a vibrant chicken?

You’re not likely to find the phrase “vibrant chicken” anywhere else. My husband actually invented this nonsensical phrase by accident as we were parting ways one dayhim to work and me at home with the kids to . . . well . . . work. Now, we use it regularly as a reminder to us both to start the day with a smile, maybe even a little giggle. To approach whatever comes our way with a sense of humor.

Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it’s not even enjoyable. Work, finances, relationships, the future, the present, the past—it all weighs on us. Hills and valleys, ups and downs.

RELATED: Motherhood is Hard, But Loving You is the Easiest Thing I’ve Ever Done

However, if we approach life with a sense of humor, we hold on to our joy. Instead of being dragged down, we are buoyed up. Instead of being bleak and dreary, life becomes colorful again. It can even become vibrant.

Being a vibrant chicken is fairly simple.

That’s not to say it’s always easy; in fact, maintaining a sense of humor can be a very difficult choice on some days, but it is possible. The secret is to decide. That’s really it. Decide to let go of the weight on your shoulders. Decide to reach for laughter. Joy is there; we just have to make room for it.

Keeping a sense of humor is as much a practiced skill as anything else worth pursuing. As far as I can tell, there’s no Laughter Fairy who bursts into the kitchen in a blast of bells and glitter just when the toddler has completely emptied the cup of milk that she promised not to spill onto the table and needs a second set of clothes for the day, the baby is communicating in no uncertain terms that she is highly insulted that you would EVER think of cleaning her face so that she can take a much-needed nap without inhaling the peanut butter she managed to smear across her nose, the oven is threatening to turn the casserole that serves as Hubby’s lunches for the week (because planning, right?) into charcoal as retribution for ignoring its repeated reminders that its job is done, the dogs are notifying you via high-pitched yelps of an imminent bathroom break that will happen whether you take them outside or not, and (to add insult to injury) the alarm on your phone is entering its fifth round of that incredibly annoying tune that is meant to help you NOT be late for the virtual doctor’s appointment that you’ve already rescheduled three times.

(By the way, if the Laughter Fairy does exist, please give her my number, because she’s obviously having trouble finding my house.)

Maybe it’s just me, but highly stressful and emotional scenes like this are practically a daily occurrence in my life.

The best thing I can do in that situation is to step back, take a few deep breaths, and reach for the laughter.

Not the maniacal laughter of a mom who is about to really lose her cool, but the healthy, deep laughter that acknowledges the “momentary, light affliction” of spilled milk and burnt casseroles, shakes off the smothering burden of burnout, and brings a refreshing breeze into your lungs and the moment. That kind of laughter can help clear the air and your mind, and you’ll be able to triage the situation effectively instead of adding your wails to the discordant symphony around you.

RELATED: Be With the One You Can Laugh With

And hey, if you can muster up a silly face or even a goofy dance, then your sense of humor can spread to the kids and maybe even the dogs (though the oven might be a hard sell) and everyone can be buoyed up together.

Life isn’t always easy, but a sense of humor can keep a good day with 10 rough minutes in the middle of it from becoming just another bad day. And so, mama, no matter what comes your way today, whether it be a hill or a valley or something in between . . .

Be a vibrant chicken. *cluck cluck*

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Lauren O'Bannan

Ezer kenegdo. Scrunchy mom. Educator. Avid creator. Mercy with a Teacher back (or 9/Peacemaker with a 1/Reformer back, depending on your language). Above all, the daughter of the Most High.

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