Re-discover Joy!

by | Apr 2, 2017 | Soul Food | 0 comments

Joy is not the same as happiness. I want more joy in my life. Don’t you? How do we obtain it and maintain it? Where can we find it?

We can learn a great deal about it from children. We witness the most pure form of joy when we watch children at play. They are fully engaged with each other, intensely living in the moment, laughing from a deep place inside and believing the impossible. Do you notice their raw emotional reactions to life and their purely joyful facial expressions and body language?

I watched a YouTube video that nailed this idea. It was a social experiment in which a man stood on a busy street corner with a blind fold over his eyes and his arms outstretched wide. He had a sign that read, “free hugs”. The results really got me thinking. I noticed the hugs from the children were very different from those from the adults that we participating. They hugged with sincerity and a genuine love. In the video, you could see that the children were giving better hugs because they were full of life, passion and joy. The difference was extremely noticeable. I thought to myself that we should all operate like the children. This man was a total stranger to these kids but they hugged him with the same gusto as if he were their daddy or Santa Claus. Pure acceptance and adoration was on display. This behavior comes from a place of joy. What kind of impact could we have on people and the world by simply spreading more joy?

  “Attain pure joy…

                like that of …

                               a child.”

The problem is that with adulthood we shift our focus and assume responsibility in taking care of ourselves and our families but in the process sometimes lose joy. I think a seriousness takes its place. Could it be because society teaches us to value things like intelligence, financial accomplishments and personal achievement. But are we taught to value joy as we should? After a while we realize that its gone and we start searching for it. We search high and low for materialistic things and people that will fill the void. In fact we as a society tend to spend a great deal of our free time trying different things in the hope that it will bring us happiness. Some people watch movies or TV, some drink alcohol or use drugs, some take up hobbies or sports, some just surround themselves with people. It’s all for the same reason. We are trying to replicate joy.

You see, we have certain human needs that must be met. It is physiological and psychological. When the needs are not met they become voids inside of us. They must be filled and will get filled one way or another. Some things we need as human beings to function well are love, acceptance, purpose, passion and joy.

There is a difference between happiness and joy. We often replace the word joy with the word happiness in conversation. Like mentioned in our US Constitution, it was verified as one of our inalienable rights. It is “the pursuit of happiness.” I’d like to propose that joy goes beyond just happiness though. Happiness is a result of external circumstances and the reaction to them but joy is a chosen lifestyle that comes from within that does not diminish through the good times and the bad. It comes from a place of child-like innocence and connection with your individual identity and the One who created you.

A life-style of joy carries us through the storms of life and brings hope in dark situations. Tough times in life are inevitable and beyond our control. How we handle them, how we get through them and what we learn from them is all determined by us individually. We have the choice of how we view our circumstances and how we react to them. In the midst of enduring trials it is wise and beneficial to experience joy in order to be strengthened. This is true so that it is possible to over come and press on.

I have also seen countless examples

of people living with incredibly

difficult circumstances, with very

few possessions but are very

familiar with joy and live it to the

fullest.

Every day I see people living without joy. I know it may seem hard to find and even easier to lose. I think we all have experienced the loss from time to time. Some people go for long periods of time while others have lived a life rarely experiencing joy. My heart breaks for them that are not familiar. There are many in the world that struggle daily just to survive and have known no other life. They don’t know joy and they desperately need to taste of it. But I have also seen countless examples of people living with incredibly difficult circumstances, with very few possessions but are very familiar with joy and live it to the fullest. They sing in the fields while they toil all day for little pay. Or they give what little they have to a stranger in need. They smile to you on the street although their body is riddled with pain. “It’s an inside job.” It’s not determined by external circumstances. It is a choice to look at life in a positive light being grateful always.

Like a smile or laughter, joy can be contagious also. It can spread from person to person, from village to village, from city to city and nation to nation. Carriers of joy can choose to be abundantly generous with what they have and let it spill out to others in need. Like a river flowing, others can jump in and experience it also. Like a flood we can become known as a people that possess joy above all else. Where there is joy, there hope also abounds. Where there is joy barriers are removed and walls are torn down. People are set free from pain, hopelessness, stress, anxiety, depression and much more.

Joy is a journey. Let’s begin.

 

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. ~ Psalm 16:11

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