Joy is cultivated internally. It is an understanding of you who you are, how you are, and why you are. You and I won’t always know all the answers to those questions because one of the most interesting parts about life is how we are always evolving through our journey. But I do believe there is a foundation, certain aspects of who we are, that are built in to our very being. Usually we are at our best when we are tapping in to those foundational pieces and focusing on their growth. I believe that we are better able to manifest joy in our life when we truly understand that we have a purpose in this life and that the world was not put here to serve us, but rather we were put in the world to serve it. I know all too well that this isn’t an easy journey. For many years I would tell my husband, “I feel like I am meant for more but I don’t know what that means” and I would be so frustrated by feeling stuck. But what I realized is that in just understanding I had a purpose, even the unfilled and unknown parts of it, I found more joy. Purpose is a journey, not a destination. Just like joy is a journey to continually discover who we are, how we are, and why we are. It is in that journey that true contentment can be found. Here are a few ways to help us find and retain joy:
The ability to look around, even on what may seem like mundane days, and appreciate all that there is in your life is never to be taken lightly. We take so much for granted but when we stop and take a look around we realize all the truly good things in our lives. The daily moments we take advantage of too often fall to the way side, as we get caught up looking for bigger or better, but that isn't where joy is found. If we can all take a moment each day to write down three things that we are thankful for I know we will all find how much we really have.
Appreciating Life’s Challenges:
This one I believe takes more retrospection, and likely being a little older, because no one is thrilled when things don’t go the way they had planned. But I think that if we can learn to see the challenges and failures instead as pivotal moments in our lives that may help us go in the right direction, then that is a good place to start. In my own life I can see how things the challenges or failures in my life put me on a path to a new direction, one that I may not had been on otherwise. It was never easy initially. But I look back and know I wouldn’t be here if things had gone exactly as I had planned. It is appreciating the moments we can’t always control that we learn how to find joy, even when the shit hits the fan, as it always will. The challenges in life tend to be those times we learn a lot about ourselves and knowing who we are is a big step in being more joyful.
Knowing Who You Are:
Last week I discussed on the blog that if you aren’t careful you will start to live your life by other people’s standards and ideas of what a fulfilled life is. There is no better way to kill your own joy than doing this. If you don’t know who you are, why you are, and how you are, then how can you ever feel any long lasting emotion like contentment or joy? If you are always looking to live up to someone else’s life, purpose or journey you will miss your own. You will miss your joy. The most important and challenging relationship is the one you have with yourself, it will affect every other relationship you have. Make sure you spend the time getting to know yourself, staying true to yourself, and finding your joy.
Being Tied to Something Bigger Than Ourselves:
People need to be tethered to something that isn’t just for self or ego. And that can be found in a lot of different places for people. For me, that purpose comes from an intimate relationship with God. I know that can be scary for some, believe me I sometimes feel the same way about those who often speak the loudest for Christianity. But for me, I know love for a God that is the creator of diversity and equality, the lover of ALL people, the defender of the least, and the compassionate, generous force in this universe. Those truths and understandings for me have not always been found in the four walls of church. While church may have been my initial foundation, my true relationship has been found in the worst moments of my life; on the floor crying, begging for answers to the injustices, or when I have been lost in my own life. I will never understand all the wrongs or sadness of the world, but to be tethered to a greater purpose and relationship, for me, create a joy and deeper purpose in my life. What it is for you may be different but what I do know is that we all need to be tied to something bigger than ourselves.
No matter how you move forward from today my hope for you, and for me, is that we look to fill our lives with more joy.