Dance, if you can—alone or with someone, even if you are bad at it, especially if you never have danced before. You will thank yourself later, if not immediately. I had always wanted to learn how to dance. The first time I did, I was amazed by how exhilarating it was, combining physical exercise, rhythmic concentration and the challenge of following another person‘s movements across a dance floor. It really forced my mind to work. Memory centers in the brain must flare to life with positive stress brought on by performing several complicated functions at once—and this forces the mind to work, while providing other physical benefits as well.
Exercising the body exercises the mind, in a way. Neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang describe how activities that exercise the body, and especially the cardiovascular system, are some of the most productive steps a person can take to stimulate brain health and activity. They discuss the fallacy of relying on various gimmicks to strengthen memory and I.Q., and state that the everyday activities that most people engage in—driving, working, solving life’s little problems, and navigating social situations—are already mental exercises superior to many puzzles and other mind games (Welcome to Your Brain, p. 212).
If this assessment is accurate, then dancing is a wonderful exercise in so many ways. It provides physical and mental exercise and, when practiced appropriately, even spiritual and emotional exercise. For a scriptural endorsement, you might refer to Psalm 149 to see that songs and dance are special forms of praise to God. In addition, an interesting thought from Psalm 30:11 may deepen our appreciation for both forms of praise:
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.”
God wants to hear and see our gladness in the ways that we express it. When we do just that—show our fellowship and praise in creative ways—we may be able to fulfill God’s wishes all the more by enjoying the capacities He gives us and being thankful for them. King David himself chose to dance before God with all his might, because of his great joy at being able to be a part of God’s mighty work (2 Samuel 6:14). Guided by a right spirit, there will always be a place for such shared outpouring of strong feelings—and the benefits are simply awesome, in every way. No, we do not dance in Church services, just as we do not cry out our most private and heartfelt prayers while others are watching (Matthew 6:6). But we can take heart knowing that, to everything, there is a season. “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
To get a glimpse of a time when God will teach all of humanity to share and express true, righteous joy, read our free booklet The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like? or order your own printed copy. And remember—there are times for sadness and mourning, but also times to dance. May there always be a time to dance!