Joy can be rather elusive if I do not pay attention to what steals it. My thoughts can allow me to let fear and negativity take hold. Being aware, gratitude and faith are some ways I am learning to overcome these pesky joy stealers.
Living a joyful life is undoubtedly top of the essential tools for creating a life worth living. As Adela Rogers St Johns says; “Joy seems to me a step beyond happiness. Happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes when you’re lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love.”
I love being joyful and am more productive; I see people in a different light and I am more patient kind and loving. Socializing is easier, I help more and am better to be around, so why is it, that sometimes I can slip into my not joyful state and find the opposite in everything. There are several triggers, I discovered, that rob me of my joy.
When I can identify which one it is, however, I can slowly deal with it and hopefully find my joy again quickly. Sometimes it does take longer, and that is frustrating because life is always better for me when I am joyful.
Jumping into the Fear hole
Fear is a debilitating trigger that steals my joy. Harville Hendricks says our brain is wired for negativity, as a survival mechanism. My thoughts are very keen to get fear to grow into something so much more than what it is, and I have to be very conscious of seeing them for what they are, just thoughts and not the reality of the situation. Easier said than done, however as I practice to become aware of how my thought life functions, this enables me to become more aware of that hole I am slipping into.
Caroline Leaf talks about rewiring your brain. She says the root of Stress is fear. Her first detox Step is consciously controlling your thought life, not only the first step; the primary step. Ensure that any negative thinking is stopped before it takes hold and replace it with a positive one. This is my number one difficulty because before I know it I have already spiraled along the thought to the most disastrous of outcomes.
Tips to help that thought life
I have decided that a proactive stance is crucial. Remain on high alert to my thought life, and the minute that negative thought pops into my head I tell it that although I understand the thought is trying to protect me from any harm, I have this covered, and I can be trusted to ensure my safety. Finding the courage to take steps in the direction of whatever I can do to find a solution to what is causing the fear is paramount.
Some simple steps I take immediate are:-
- Deep breathing, this calms the body down
- Talk to somebody.
I used the word jealousy because it also starts with J; however, comparison is one of the causes of jealousy, is it not, and is my second thief of joy. John Powell states that most of us have been taught to compare ourselves with others and most professionals agree: Comparison is the death of true self-contentment. Unfortunately, the results of these early contests and competitions have left lifelong scars in many of us. I can become resentful and have negative feelings, a sure joy stealer.
JOHN POWELL’S TEN TIPS
- Accept yourself
- Take full responsibility for your life
- Relax, exercise and nourish yourself
- Make your lives an act of love
- Step out of your comfort zone
- Become a ‘goodfinder’
- Seek growth, not perfection
- Communicate effectively
- Enjoy the good things in life
- Make prayer a part of our daily lives.
Justifying woe is me.
Feeling of not having is my third joy stealer; scarcity, anxiety for the future, depression about the past all trigger ‘my woe is me’ button. I can quickly fall into the ‘justifying woe is me trap’. Vulnerability is scary, the loss of control, significant.
Eckart Tolle comments that when the Ego is in survival mode or some emotional pattern from the past has become activated, all that is needed is to become aware of that emotion, and it loosens its grip. If I am aware that I am not my thoughts, it becomes easier to allow myself to let go of the feeling that my life is worse than it could be and I turn to gratitude.
Once I start taking note of what I have, I can begin to appreciate my life more. The more I can appreciate who I am and what I have, the more joy can start to emanate.
HOW TO OVERCOME WHAT ROBS MY JOY
Brene Brown says that happiness is attached to external situations and events, whereas joy seems to be bound to our hearts by spirit and gratitude. She says that the Greek word for joy is Chairo and is explained by Methodist Pastor, writer, Anne Robertson this way.
“Chairo is something, the ancient Greeks tell us, that is found only in God and comes with virtue and wisdom. It isn’t a beginner’s virtue; it comes as the culmination. They say its opposite is not sadness, but fear”.
We are hungry for more joy
Lynne Twist states that we are a nation hungry for more joy because we are starving from lack of gratitude. She says that “once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency which is not a measure of barely enough or more than enough.”
Sufficiency is not an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough and that we are enough. Having enough resides inside each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.” Gratitude then emanates from that.
How simple is that? My blog on Gratitude is a perfect prelude to joy and so to just recap.http://lovinglylivelife.com/2019/07/26/why-we-need-gratitude-and-how-to-grow-more/
- I must remember to realise I deserve good things to happen to me.
- Feel gratitude before I receive.
- Make a list of things I am grateful for daily, i.e. remember to be thankful.
How to create a pathway for Joy to emanate.
I am reading the Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin. https://gretchenrubin.com/ She devised a 12-month plan to improve her happiness. So yes I just said that happiness and joy are two separate entities, but I think once we get our minds on the right track, and practice how to be a happier person, joy will start to emanate from that. Her blog is available so take a look; she has some brilliant ideas.
JOY IN OTHERS
Relationships are something we all need in our lives. We are built for community and bonding together, yet we find ourselves too busy, too shy or to hurt to go out and create these essential ways of finding joy with our fellow man. When we find those real gems of friends that will listen with empathy, joy truly emerges.
Many people thrive on social living, I, on the other hand, am an introvert, finding joy in using my hands, creating, and being a homebody. I do get bored quickly, however, and need loads of mental stimulation. When things get tough for me though, I need people.
Even if it’s just going for a walk on the beach, seeing other people walk their dogs, watching the waves as they lap on the sand, the mountain majestically in the background, is so uplifting. I find being in any form of nature is uplifting for me, in fact, just being outside is uplifting. However people do help people.
God and Joy
Trevor Hudson recommended I read a book called Surrender to Love by David G Benner. David Benner says that God knows how we fear the abandonment that perfect love invites.
He says that God’s first words to us are “Fear not” and that God understands our tendency to fear, and in gentleness, he invites us to let him rid us of our fears and heal us by love. Perfect love overcomes fear and Jesus is the antidote to fear. The incarnation is God reaching out across the chasm caused by our sin and starting the relationship all over again. The incarnation reveals true Love reaching out to dispel fear.
If God is perfect Love, why do I need to compare myself with anyone else? If love connects me to life and every living being then comparing is unhelpful. Instead, I go out in love and gratitude rather than comparison.
THE JOYFUL WAY
Joy as I stated in the beginning, is not something we achieve without doing some inward reflection. I like Gretchin’s approach, Plan it. She says current research emphasises the wisdom of a chart-approach. We are more likely to progress on goals that are broken down into measurable actions with structure, accountability and positive reinforcement.
So I am off to start my chart of happiness and allow joy in.
Good luck, we will be heading off to K next blog, and I am keeping that a secret. Watch this space.
Brown, B., 2015. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Hazelden Publishing.
Benner. D.G. 2015. Surrender to Love, Discovering the heart of Christian Spirituality. InterVarsity Press.
Hendrix, H., 2008. Getting the love you want. A guide for couples. Henry Holt and Company.
Trevor Hudson. Author, Minister
Leaf. C. 2007. Who switched off my Brain? Toxic thoughts, emotions and Bodies. Switch on your brain Oganisation Pty Ltd.
Powell. J. 1989. Happiness is an Inside Job. Tabor Publishing
Rubin. G. 2009. The Happiness Project. Harper
Tolle E. 2005 A new Earth. Awakening to your life’s Purpose. Penguin Books
Twist. L. 2003. The Soul of Money. Barker