I have learned through life’s many ups and downs that joy and happiness are things we have to become intentional about. It’s about decisions we make daily.
People think that some have more joy because they are just born with a sunnier personality. Well, it is true that some people have sunnier dispositions than others. But, statistically genetics contribute about 50% to our propensity for joy, circumstances about 10% and the rest is really up to us. Or as someone wisely said, “we often expect happiness or joy to land on our doorstep like pizza, but it doesn’t work that way.”
Because of Covid-19, I recently decided to “Facetime” with two of my grandkids. I was dancing around with a sombrero acting silly. We got Alexa involved and had all kinds of fun singing and dancing. Those few moments were pure joy. We had a joy break. The truth is we can have joy breaks even in the midst of difficult and challenging situations. It might require thinking outside of the box and getting a little creative, but it is so vital for our overall mental well-being.
Most people allow everyday joy to escape them because they are focused on what they don’t like , what is missing, what is lacking, and what is broken. Easy to do. We can allow our unmet expectations, circumstances or even comparisons rob of us all joy. What I have learned through the years, when I want to have a pity party, is that the best way to shift gears is to start finding things for which I’m grateful. Yes, there may be people better off than me but there also people who are worse off than I am.
One of the most positive things I have ever done in my life was to write in a gratitude journal for 40 days. What was interesting about that experience was that the more I wrote in the journal, the more things I thought of to be grateful about. I experienced greater peace, slept better, and had more joy those 40 days. Gratitude is a real mood shifter. My circumstances didn’t change, but I did.
I have had the privilege to travel overseas on some mission trips. I have seen people in impoverished situations still have joy. How can that be? I truly believe that joy is less circumstantial and more an inward reality that is fueled from a heart of faith and gratitude. People that have more joy learn to view life differently. They know how to make lemonade out of lemons. They practice gratitude and they know how to be present and savor the many beautiful moments in life.
So, what is it that brings you joy? You may be limited in some of the things you can do right now, but what can you still do? What would be fun and what would give you joy? Maybe you need to watch a comedy TV show or a funny movie. Once, there was a woman suffering from depression and she went to see her doctor for her depression. He wrote out a very strange prescription on his pad. His prescription for her was to watch funny videos every day for the next seven days and then return for a follow up visit. Well it certainly was the strangest prescription she had ever seen, but she decided to take his advice and do it anyway. In seven days, she returned and the doctor couldn’t help but notice the smile on her face and the spring in her step. He asked her how she was feeling and she said better than she had felt in a long time. The Bible does say that a merry heart does good like medicine.
In these challenging days when there is so much bad news around, it so critical for our well-being to find ways to love on yourself, to laugh, to play, and have a few joy breaks along the way. You matter and most importantly that beautiful heart and soul of yours matters just as much as your physical body. My encouragement to you is to find joy by making time for it and becoming intentional about it. Choose joy and choose it every day!