Essentials: JOY

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My neighbors have two large wooden ornaments in their front lawn, each painted with the word “JOY.”  Makes me smile every time I see it.  Add some twinkling lights, parties, carols, and the laughter of celebrating, and it’s the holiday season! Do you feel it?

It’s a tough season for many who are missing someone or are struggling, and it’s so easy to get caught up in the tough parts.  I served as a hospital chaplain for a couple of decades, and many of the patients and their families had every reason to focus on their challenging situations.  Those who did struggled more.  Those who instead focused on their progress healed faster and were more cheerful. 

One lady had been very poorly and in a lot of pain, but each time I saw her, she found a smile.  The staff commented on how pleasant she had been.  I asked her how she had managed to maintain her outlook.  She said, “Chaplain, you can focus on your pain, or you can choose joy, but they never coincide.  Joy is more fun.”

My previously cynical side wanted to argue, but I couldn’t.  It is a shift in thinking and feeling, but the season offers a lot of support for cultivating Joy.     

Need some ideas? 

Gratitude opens the door.  Focus on what we have.  Take good care of what you’ve been given, those you love, as well as those who challenge you.  It’s not always easy but finding ways to be grateful for the hard stuff transforms us. 

Giving, especially with no expectation of anything in return.  It may be physical gifts, money, your skills or talents, or your time.  Investing in others transforms us in fantastic ways.

Kindness to others at every reasonable opportunity.  Kindness is magical as it often transforms the recipient – and it does our hearts good as well.    Also works when you’re kinder to yourself.  Just a thought.  When we choose to be kind, it transforms a situation.

Presence can create so much more joy than presents.  When we slow down enough to truly be present with someone, with a feeling, with our own souls, we transform an interaction. 

In choosing Joy, we heal, and we are more in touch with our true selves in heart, mind, body, and soul.  That’s a joyous moment. 

Want to heal and find more joy?  If your lip just curled a bit, Contact me.  Believe me, I know that feeling but found the way to get free of it.

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