Happiness is a wonderful feeling; however, it is also circumstantial, and emotionally-based. Therefore, happiness is only a temporary sensation. So, if happiness is only temporary, then what is a better alternative? The answer is joy. Joy is not only experiencing unconditional love in your relationships, but also findingpeace and hope in times of chaos, grief, andpain. When compared to joy, happiness is shallow because joy is an attitude of our heart that goes deep into our soul.
We experience joy when we live selflessly and become spiritually connected with both God and people. Joy is not boastful, it is not isolated, and it is not hopeless. Instead,joy is ahumblestrength, andthe lighthearted peace it brings is felt by others. Being joyful means having confidence in the unconditional love that comes from God, being hope-filledand giving thanks in all circumstances. Here’s how to find joy and cultivate more joy in our everyday lives.
Recognize Your Worth
Negative thoughts are poison to our mindset and feelings. If we are constantly telling ourselves that we are not good enough or we believe the negative talk from others, we will never find happiness, let alone joy. Regardless of your past mistakes or shortcomings, you are deserving of joy and the that comes with it. True joy is unaffected by negativity becausethose who possess joy know their worth and that joy is unlimited. Joy brings self-acceptance and allows you to walk a bit more confidently through life.
To help you recognize your worth, remind yourself daily that there is no one like you and that God created you to enjoy life. When you feel your mind going down a negative path, bring it back by taking a deep breath and saying something like “I am unique; I am valuable; I am enough.” Write these reminders in places you will be sure to see them, like on the bathroom mirror, in the car or on your phone. It may take time to believe your own words, but over time, your heart will know they are true because God will confirm them in your spirit. This mindset transformation will allow more joy into your life.
Another thing that can rob your life of joy is playing the comparison game. It is especially difficult to stop playing this game if you regularly engage in socialmedia, read popular magazines, watch television or have a variety of relationships in your life. Whether or not we realize it, we see other’s beautiful, easy, stable and seemingly perfect lives and compare those to our drab, less-than-perfectlives.
We can find joy whenwe celebrate the good things in others’ lives rather than being envious. Learn to recognizeothers’ accomplishments, celebrate their wins, and affirm their efforts. Complimenting others and considering their feelings is a great way to overcome the comparison game “hampster wheel.”Invest in the people you value and want to be more like, and distance yourself from those who do not have your best interests at heart. We can also experience joy when we focus on our own blessings and successes, acknowledging the good things God has done in our lives. You never know, someone might be comparing your great life to their own!
What are you thankful for? Take one minute right now and see if you can list at least 10 things you have (or do not have, like a terminal illness!) that you can be thankful for. Think about your relationships, your employment or employable skills, where you live, your mode of transportation, your health, your country, etc. Are you able to work, clothe, feed and shelter yourself? So many people in the world today do not have the luxury of going to the grocery store for food, have affordable access to medical/dental care or have access to clean drinking water, and yet many of us take these things for granted.
Itcan be easy to fall into the routine of negative or selfish thoughts without realizing how they are really affecting you over the long term. Our thoughts are powerful, and they need to be monitored. When we consciously direct our thoughts down a more positive path, our natural negative thought rhythms begin to break down and new thought pathways are created. It is all about shifting our perspective, and the best way to do that is by practicing gratitude. This discipline can alter our once negative attitude into a more positive and joyous one. Gratitude is an invitation for joy to grow in our heart and mind and remain for a lifetime.
Many would argue that humans are naturally selfish; we tend to only think of ourselves and what we need to do to be happy. Some who are considered wise and mature would tell you that one of the ways to find true joy is to serve others and put their needs above your own. This requires setting your own wants aside long enough to see a person’s needs, to lending a helping hand to a neighbor or to let a stranger go first. Serving others is another way to make more room for joy in our hearts because it gives us a chance to fellowship and feelmore connected to others. Each of us has a unique skill set and a variety of strengths, and when we allow the “gifts” we possess to be shared with others, our lives become more purposeful and we find true joy.
Reevaluate Your Relationships
The people we surround ourselves with are the ones we tend to act like. If you are regularly around “Negative Nancys” or haters, it will be easy for you to adopt their habits without even realizing it. However,if you fill your social circle with people who are joyful, positive, humble and loving, it will be easier for you to act likewise. If you ever feel drainedor like the life has been sucked right out of you after leaving someone’s presence, you need to think about how to establish better boundaries with that person or how to cut them out of your life. Invest more time an energy into the people who care about you, who encourage you, who tell you the truth, and who make you laugh because they are the ones who will help you find more joy in your life.
Finding and cultivating joy takes intentionality. It is a choice and an attitude of the heart. When you find joy, you will also find a life that feels fuller, more carefree and has stronger relationships with those you care about most.