Do This, Get That… The Joy Edition.
Updated: Sep 17, 2018
What is the root of happiness? How do we find it? How do we sustain it? How do we make the move from happiness in the moment to a joy that is so common in our lives that it’s just who we are.
Sometimes I think it would be so wonderful if I could simply arrive at a place in life where everything just seemed to work. Good Job, good relationship status, good social life, good family life - the works. Surely then I could take the word HAPPY, write it triumphantly over a stylized Instagram post and be done with the stress of balancing everything! Unfortunately, that’s not the way life goes, and maybe it’s a good thing that we can’t just “arrive” at happy.
The other day I was at the Pure Barre studio I teach at, and one of our clients stopped me to comment on how happy I always seem to be and how enjoyable it makes my classes. Just a little side note about me - I stink at taking compliments. I think I do a pretty good job of covering it up, but normally when someone says something positive/complimentary/encouraging, the words just glance off me without really hitting home. I wish I would absorb the good things people say on a soul level and not even pay attention to any criticisms I might come in contact with, but unfortunately the reverse seems to be much closer to truth. As I was nodding my head smiling at this particular client (who is so lovely and always has an encouraging word for me) I decided to actually save her thoughts for later where I would unpack them further… so what do you know, here we are :).
After further thought on the topic of happiness I really wanted to break down how to find that place, always, even when life circumstances don’t lend themselves toward joy. Honestly, that genuine smile that accompanies a full heart doesn’t have anything to do with a perfect life. I’ve found that for me, it’s about a thankful life instead. When I start my day with simple words of prayer to my Heavenly Father, usually short thoughts that walk through the many ways that He has seen fit to bless me, I find that my attitude is quickly affected. This may be on a day with an early morning wake up, where I’m stumbling around at 4am getting ready to teach an early morning class, or a normal wake up time when my thoughts are a little more coherent, but I try to follow through every morning all the same.
The amazing connection a positive attitude has with a positive outlook on life is so lost in the cultural message these days. Social media platforms seem to focus on the ideal* or the perfect* (CAUTION * these things don’t actually exist) and even though each of us know for a fact that it’s just a snapshot of a persons’ life we are looking at, the false seems to become truth when we ingest it in large quantities. Suddenly the thought of happiness being a choice seems foreign when placed next to the ideal in comparison. With all of the hurt hiding right underneath the surface in the lives of the vast majority, you have to stop and wonder how affected we all really are by things as seemingly harmless as Instagram and Facebook.
Does the cause really matter though? There is definitely a problem, and while naming the cause could shed some light on possible solutions, the reality is simple. Why wait? Deciding to practice self control in the moment when you are tempted to complain is a wildly different approach to chasing away the clouds of a bad attitude. As much as we might think, “it can’t possibly be that simple,” what if it really was? Choosing to be thankful for the awesome things in your life, even if it’s something as simple and ordinary as air conditioning, your favorite coffee in the break room, or your significant other that you can give an extra long hug to when you get home from work that evening. A grand life isn’t the result of having it all, but instead reminding yourself of all the wonderful blessings you do have. No matter what, you will always find that the blessings outweigh the struggles and once you begin waking up to that reality every morning, the overflow of thankfulness is happiness.
My relationship with the Lord has a way of reminding me to seek Him for strength, thank Him for provision, and trust Him to bring more hope and happiness than I could possibly reach my hands out to want.
The Bible has a few things to say about the topic of Joy as well, so I thought I’d leave you with these truths to help you choose thankfulness and find yourself with the bonus of happiness :)
James 1:2-4 “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forces into the open and shows it's true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do it’s work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
Romans 15:13 “Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that you believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”
Psalm 27:6 “God holds me head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down. I’m headed for His place to offer anthems that will raise the roof! Already I’m singing God-songs; I’m making music to God.”
Romans 14:17 “God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness sake. It’s what God does with your life as He sets it right, puts it together, and competes it with joy.”
Hebrews 12:2&3 Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where he was headed-that exhilarating finish in and with God- He could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.
And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”