I think there is a distinct difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is dependent on what’s going on in your life. It’s the choice of how you deal with everyday annoyances. Joy, on the other hand, is deep inside. It’s something you have whether you are happy or sad, satisfied or annoyed, excited or indifferent.
My Steps to Joy include three questions to ask yourself.
Who do I love? This question has nothing to do with your favorite food, your new car, or the latest necklace you just purchased. Or does it? Who do you love? Close your eyes and take a very deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds and then as you breathe out, picture the negative leaving your body. Your eyes still closed, Who do you love? Some of us can name some family and friends, some of us can just name one or two people. How many of you can say, truly say that you love yourself? If you can’t love you, how can you deeply love others?
What am I grateful for? Do you have a gratitude journal? Do you actually write in it? Are you aware of what has occurred during your everyday life that you are grateful for? I’d like to suggest that you write down a few things just before you turn off your light at night. Falling asleep with gratitude on your mind and in your heart will do wonders for your sleep. Much better than falling asleep to the news or a program that is negative and violent, putting your mind into a negative tail spin.
How can I serve? People, organizations, animals; they all need you. If you’ve never served, let me just say that your problems, your issues, your bothers don’t seem so important any more. What is service? Honestly, it can be as simple as a smile and as complicated at travelling across the world to help those in need. It can be walking the neighbors dog or being at the animal shelter. Think, no really… take some time to think about people around you. Who needs something? A kind word, a box of food, their lawn mowed. What kid doesn’t need another adult in their life? Schools take volunteers to help all day long!! Maybe you have more time, there are so many mentor programs around from scouting, church groups to boys and girls club.
I know, you’re just reading now and you’ll go back later and think about these things. Whenever you take the time, write it down.
Joy comes when you love yourself enough to love others. To pull them close even when they don’t deserve to be pulled close. Joy comes when you can be grateful in the midst of the storm as well as the days filled with sunshine and rainbows. Joy comes when you can look for ways to make life better for someone else. Joy comes when the song in your heart is focused on others.
If the love is sincere enough, if the gratitude is real enough, if the need to serve is deep enough, your joy will come.
PS Who do you love? What are you grateful for? How can you serve?