There are many things in life that are beyond our control. Pain, loss, and difficult circumstances come to us all. That old adage of how “you can’t control others, but you can control how you respond to others” is very true. This can be applied, not only to people, but to other areas of our lives, as well.
The year 2020 is a perfect example. Oh yes, this year will go down in the history books as being one of the most difficult years – world wide! With bad news seemingly coming at us from every angle, sadly, it is no wonder that suicide and depression is on the rise.
However, it doesn’t always take catastrophic news, hitting us from every angle, to lose our joy. In fact, for many, joy seems to have been out of reach for the majority of our lives. There are people who only experience joy on “special occasions” like when they’re vacationing, spending money, eating, etc. This will cause the person to go to great lengths to seek the next “high”. Of course, this isn’t authentic joy…this is a temporary happiness caused by external pleasure.
The truth is that joy comes from the inside and not from ideal circumstances or external pleasures.
If you’re not sure how to lean into a life of joy then there is good news! You don’t have to wait for joy to jump on you – you can activate it! Being joyful is just like everything else – it takes practice and being purposeful in order to achieve it.
Below are 3 Simple Ways to Activate JOY:
(1) Look for the Simple Beauty in Life. No matter how ugly you may feel things are, there is always something beautiful to celebrate. Remember when you used to pick wildflowers, or draw pictures, as a child? You thought they were so pretty and couldn’t wait to share them with someone else! Well, you don’t need a dozen roses and a picture to post, on social media, in order to find joy in beauty.
Beauty isn’t always this enormous (or expensive) display. It can be found almost anywhere including within the mundane of routine. Tap into the wonderment of seeing beauty in the simple things, of life, again…..and joy will follow.
(2) Be Present. It’s easy to get distracted when you are facing difficult circumstances. In fact, you could be sitting in a comfortable room, surrounded by people who love you, but if your mind is focused elsewhere then you will miss the moment. Allow your body to feel the comfort of the room. Look your loved ones in the eye and listen to them, share with them, and appreciate the time you have.
Sadly, we don’t all have the gift of a comfortable room or a bunch of loved ones, in our lives. But we can all partake in cozy occasions. Make space, in your life, for those things that bring you comfort (a favorite meal, a cup of tea, a soft blanket, a nap, etc.) and thoroughly relish the time spent with those things. Life may not be a constant laugh fest but it can be full of wonderful moments. You can decide what to focus on, choose to be present…and joy will follow.
(3) Focus on Strength Rather than “Happiness”. As strange as it may sound, being happy is overrated. I’m not saying that sadness is better by any means. But know this: happiness is temporary and is usually dependent on external circumstances. Happiness is a butterfly that flits here and there but never stays. Rather than placing so much attention on being “happy”, focus more on being a person of inner strength.
Please don’t misunderstand me here. I am not saying that if you lack joy, then you’re “weak”. What I’m saying is that chasing after happiness is a pursuit in folly because, once found, it will not last.
The root of JOY is STRENGTH, not happiness.
It is strength that determines what your focus in life will be. It is a person of strong character that refuses to give up. When outward circumstances turn sour, you can always tap into strength to keep you going. In fact. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy of the LORD is our strength!
If you feel lacking in the inner strength department, do not despair. All good things come from our Heavenly Father and it is His strength, working through us, that we lean into.
Pursue strength… and joy will follow.