I have often referred to my wife as the wisest person on the planet. Much of my personal growth – from anxious to peaceful, from uptight to gracious, from seeking to content – I attribute to the fact that God gifted me this woman as soulmate.
One nugget she passed on to me years ago (I don’t remember where she got it from): “no one can take your Joy away from you, unless you give it to them”. That’s gold right there. Joy is a heart condition. It is an attitude. Yes, you can take joy from pleasure, beauty, or favorable circumstances. But let’s face it, you can also be amidst pleasure, beauty or favorable circumstances and still choose to be miserable. I say, “you can”, but even if you are not ready to admit that I am sure you can think of someone who is miserable All. The. Time. Likewise, you can choose joy in the midst of difficult circumstances.
A Google search for the definition of joy brings up “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”. In this 10-part series on attributes that will bring you success (if you exhibit them increasingly in your life), I wrote earlier about self-control. Whether you know it or not, you possess the capability to control how you feel about circumstances and therefore control your heart attitude. Remember, I am not defining success for you other than to say that success involves you being as healthy as possible physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually (PIES). When you practice holding onto joy, you will increasingly become able to do so regardless the circumstances you face. And when you feel joy, you will be healthier in all aspects. And when you are healthy, you can focus on being successful in your own way, which will bring you joy. It’s a beautiful circular pattern!
The question you should be asking is “how do I practice holding onto joy”? Here are just a few examples:
Express Gratitude: always, there is something to be thankful for. If you are going through an extremely difficult circumstance, you can be thankful that you have been given the strength to persevere. You can be thankful for the support of even one person around you. When you focus on what you are thankful for, your heart attitude allows for joy in the storm.
Build Perspective: the longer you live, you can store up memories of how life works, the ups and downs. With this perspective, you come to realize that almost never are you experiencing the “best” or “worst” of anything. When we recognize life for what it is, we can hold onto our joy no matter the current situation.
Decide Now: in advance, make the decision that nothing is going to steal your joy. Better said, make the decision that nothing is going to cause you to give your joy away. Joy is yours, and it is yours to keep. From time to time it may seem easier (perhaps even more satisfying in the short-term) to wallow in our misery, but that path never leads to a better outcome.
So, choose Joy. And hold onto it as if your health depends on it. It does.