How to Find More Joy – Part 1

Are you looking for more joy in your life? Are you tired of the same old same old? Has the flame of passion flickered out? Well then! Today is your lucky day! Because there are some things you can do to bring more joy into your daily existence. After all, if we don’t enjoy each day, isn’t something sadly missing?
    
Now, I’m not talking about winning the lottery or escaping to some sunny vacation spot every chance you get. Those things bring happiness true, but not necessarily joy. Ask some of the rich and famous.

Happiness depends on circumstances. Happiness is a fleeting feeling. Joy is totally different. Joy, the older sister of happiness, comes from deep inside. Joy is an eternal fountain that waters our souls. It does not depend on our circumstances. In fact, joy can still be had even in the worst of situations. Really!“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” -James 1:2

So I sent my mom a letter on how to have more joy. She recently lost her husband and at 85 years of age, is now dealing with all the stuff of taking care of a huge house, paying the bills, and basically living a single life after 30 years of being married.

“I got your letter”, she says over the phone.
“But I’m not feeling very joyful today.”

Notice the key word “feeling”.

Well, there you go. Joy is not a feeling. Joy is a gift from God. Joy is a choice and a practice. The fountain of joy stems from the knowledge that God is in control and He allows situations into our lives that might not make us “feel” joyful, but they are, ultimately, for our good.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, which means in each of us has been deposited the seed of joy. It is up to us to nurture and grow that seed until it becomes the fountain that we so desire. And that takes a bit of work and some practice. We have a part to play in this whole thing too. But that’s for another post.

When you combine happiness (outside circumstances) with joy (inner delight) watch your world explode! You will be jumping up and down like I do and people will think you are crazy! Let them!

Have you ever given thought to the difference between happiness and joy? To learn more about joy stay tuned for upcoming posts. In the meantime, please post a comment as I’d love to hear your thoughts. Until next time, keep looking up!

Advertisements

Smell the Roses

It’s a brand new year and it feels like it’s off to the races already. It wasn’t even January 1st and folks were posting their New Year’s resolutions on Facebook.  My publisher was ringing my phone trying to get me to focus on marketing for Lent when I was focused on Christmas. Social media, smart phones, and the relentless advance of time and technology presses us to keep up, move faster, and get more done.

I, for one, protest.

As a single parent, for years, I moved at the speed of light, you might say. Every minute was packed with things to do and places to go. I ran myself ragged trying to do it all.  I prided myself on being able to multi-task. Until, one day, I ran myself into the ground. 

My kids saw it coming.
“Smell the roses, Ma,” my youngest would warn.

When we reviewed my to do list, a wise young one asked “I don’t see play time on here anywhere.”

Out of the mouth of babes, right?

I knew it was time for a major shift in perspective and behavior. You know how they say “Father knows best”? Well, our heavenly Father does know best and he knows how to slow us down. Physical ailments, migraines, and over-strained muscles are our body’s way of telling us something needs to change. But do we listen?

When was the last time you really savored a meal, took a relaxing, hot bubble bath or sat down in your favorite chair to read a good book? If you’re raising kids, when did you last make them a home-cooked meal? Read them a good book? Or take time to play a game? If you’re single, how many nights a week are you out of the house? Do you wake up every morning tired? Do you have time to exercise and keep in shape?

I may be in the minority and that’s okay. But I have learned: God’s pace is S L O W and His voice is quiet. When I slow down enough to hear that still small voice, I gain clarity on my priorities. When I am more motivated to do the will of God than the fear of getting so much done, I accomplish what really matters to the heart of my Lord.

It is a trade off.  I may not be up with the latest news, Hollywood gossip, electronics or sports teams. To be honest, I am more interested in hearing what God wants to whisper to me than what the world is trying to shout. My mother likes to kid me by saying “Oh yeah, I remember. You don’t watch television.” It’s kind of a joke around our family now.

So, what do you think about the pace of life? Are you moving at the speed of light these days? If so, are you really enjoying life?  I know I still struggle with going against the rushing tide. What do you do to slow down and smell the roses? Until next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

What’s Stealing Your Joy?

Having a tough week? Job stress, no time to exercise or perhaps you had a run in with a loved one? Maybe your favorite celeb didn’t win on “Dancing with the Stars”.

So many things can happen in the course of a day that can steal my joy, if I allow them to. This week has been particularly challenging. Without going into the gory details, let’s just say I felt like everything was coming at me at once. “It looks like it’s going to be another one of those days” I remember saying to myself on monday. Well, tuesday and wednesday have had their challenges as well.

But, I’m still smiling. Yesterday, I went for a massage and relaxed. Today, I took a walk at lunch and enjoyed the chirping of the birds outside as I took a different route. Later in the afternoon, I turned on the radio for a bit, and one of my favorite songs came on – “Love you like a love song” by Selena Gomez. I started dancing around my living room right smack in the middle of the day!

Sometimes just stepping away from it all helps break the pattern of stress. Taking a walk, listening to music, making a nice dinner; all these help me keep my joy.

I also talk to myself. I remind myself of the truths I believe in. “Lord, you are in control of everything in my life. This might not look like a good thing to me, but I know you can work it out for my good. I will take responsibility for my decisions and actions. I will trust you and be glad today.” I will forget what happened at work this afternoon, what happened on monday, and I will live in the present moment. I will enjoy taking a warm shower and sitting out on my balcony with my cup of hot tea.

Joy is an indispensable commodity, as far as I’m concerned. Life just isn’t worth living if I can’t be joyful most of the time. Yes, we are all going through difficult situations and I’m not minimizing what some of you are going through right now. But, I have learned that the tough stuff will keep on coming. It is up to me to decide how each situation will affect me and how I will respond to it. The quicker I can let go of unhappy, negative thoughts, the more I can enjoy my life.

How about you? Is there something you are dwelling on that is making you miserable? Can you step outside of your situation and believe that perhaps there may be a silver lining to it in the long run? I can almost guarantee that there is.

Don’t let life steal your joy. Make a decision to be happy and enjoy each day for the gift it is. That’s why they call it “the present”. Until next time, keep smiling and keep looking up!

Living Well

What does it mean to you to “live well”? Does it mean being well off financially? Does it mean eating well? Everyone has their own idea of successful living.

To me “living well” means enjoying each day to the fullest and whatever it brings. Some days bring smiles and happy times, others bring sorrow and tears. Scripture says “Count it all pure joy when you face various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith builds perserverance” (James 1:2-3).

Living well means living in the present and not in the past. Yesterday is gone and is only a memory. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. But today is our opportunity to make new memories.

So whether your yesterdays were happy or sad, make the most of your todays. Do something that brings you joy and while you’re at it, do something to bring someone else joy as well.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:24)

Living Well

What does it mean to you to “live well”? Does it mean being well off financially? Does it mean eating well? Everyone has their own idea of successful living.

To me “living well” means enjoying each day to the fullest and whatever it brings. Some days bring smiles and happy times, others bring sorrow and tears. Scripture says “Count it all pure joy when you face various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith builds perserverance” (James 1:2-3).

Living well means living in the present and not in the past. Yesterday is gone and is only a memory. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. But today is our opportunity to make new memories.

So whether your yesterdays were happy or sad, make the most of your todays. Do something that brings you joy and while you’re at it, do something to bring someone else joy as well.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:24)