Have you ever wondered how some people can be so happy and filled with joy despite a terrible loss? Or how some people can radiate sunshine amidst the clouds of drudgery? I believe it comes down to a very simple principle. Catapulting off of my last blog post on Choices, I believe it all revolves around CHOOSING to fill one's soul with JOY and by doing so, refusing to allow anything "anti-joy" to take up residence within the soul.
Bad moments, days, sometime even longer are going to happen. But again, it's a CHOICE we have to make. Do we throw up our hands and exclaim "Woe is me!" or do we look at the situation, have a short-lived "pity party" if needed, and then move on? The "pity party" is not a bad thing. It's called being human. It's realizing on the road of striving to be holy in all we attempt to do, we are going to get side-tracked. So acknowledge it then move beyond it. Stewing in it is not healthy and prevents joy from entering our soul.
Some of the most joy-filled people are those who have lost children; who have endured hardships - could be financial, medical, family, etc. They had a choice to make and they chose joy. Here are some ways we can work towards being more joy-filled:
1. Acknowledge those areas in your life where there are difficulties and struggles. Choose one area at a time to work on and discern how you would want that situation to improve. Now what are the steps needed to achieve that goal? Nothing is insurmountable. Break it down into actual steps then begin with step one. Move on to step two when you are at peace with the level of success in step one. It's literally one foot in front of the other.
2. Step away from toxic situations. Whether at work, at home, in public, on the Internet. This may take a bit more time depending on the situation, but when we are surrounded by toxic people, environments/situations, it is imperative that we separate ourselves from anything that is aimed at limiting the joy in our lives.
3. Limit news/Internet. The moralistically evil, intrinsically destructive direction our society has turned towards, is a recipe for mental, emotional and spiritual disaster. Wean yourself off of the "need to know" and the desire of being "in the know". Yes, it's important to understand what is going on in the world. But look at it from this standpoint: how can I make a better difference in the world based on what I just read/watched? How can I contribute to softening people's hardened hearts? There is much more going on in the world with storylines that are not being shared that should be sought out. But continually following the same negative soundbites that come through on our electronic devices is allowing only negativity to reside within us. Don't make room for it! Stand up for what is right and share with others that this "bad thing" might be going on but here is what needs to take place, and come at it from a position of love and empathy. People need to be made aware of the injustices of what is going on in our world, but when sharing news about those injustices, we must offer possible solutions, no matter how outlandish they may seem to us. Nothing is impossible with the right, joy-filled focus.
4. Exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep. Personally I can't stress all of these enough. Without prioritizing your health, you have nothing. Being in an unhealthy state of being allows for fear, negativity, hatred, cynicism, self-loathing to creep in. Again, no room for joy as those are "joy-zappers". Hang up the "Do Not Enter!" sign and only welcome positive choices into your life.
5. Practice gratitude, each and every day. When you are grateful, there is no room for envy, hatred, greed.
6. Set up a joy-filled routine to start your day. Here's mine during the work week: 4AM wake up; I listen to and pray the rosary; head to the gym; eat a clean breakfast. I've attended to my physical needs along with my emotional and spiritual needs. Note that there's no room for jumping on the Internet.
7. Smile. It's hard to let in negativity when you share your smile with everyone!
8. As you are mastering the smile, work on laughing. Return to a child-like state of joy. Be "wide eyed and bushy tailed"! Embrace giggles and belly laughs, they can be infectious!
9. Breathe deeply and calmly in stressful situations. Think of the oxygen as the cleanser of the soul so INHALE DEEPLY! Wash that stress, that is preventing joy from entering, right out of your body.
10. Finally, find joy in the little happenings in your life. A simple snowfall could be an opportunity to gripe about the shoveling or an opportunity to savor the taste of complete abandonment and live within the moment of pure joy. It's up to you.