How do we have more joy and more happiness?

How do we have more joy and more happiness?

I just started reading "The Book of Joy" By His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams.  I mean talk about some experts to teach you about joy.  (Thanks mom for the Christmas present)

Between the two book studies I am currently in, and the third one for my daughter's school I am just joining this week and am already a week or two behind, I am going getting a chance to read a little at a time.  But the great news is, it ties in so well with everything that is going on.

So, how do we have more joy and more happiness?  By not being afraid to take a step back and start again.  To change your perspective. Basically, every day brings a new opportunity.

Yes, I get it.  Your days may be just one big blur that feeds into the next.  You are stuck.  You can't seem to picture joy coming from anything that you do.  But maybe before you toss everything aside, stop for a moment and think about what would happen if you chose more joy and more happiness. Only you can make that choice for yourself, nobody else can. 

It is fundamental your right to be joyful. 

Hardships will happen.  Why?  Because otherwise we would never full appreciate the good.  But, you get to choose your response. 

Are we just supposed to wake up one day and know how to be joyful? I am guessing the answer to that for everyone reading this would be a no.  I don't believe it is anything I have ever been taught. So, I guess it is a great thing I am reading a book by such wonderful experts on the topic. 

Fear, pain, suffering, it is all inevitable.  Life is always full of challenges.  As a Christian you are always going to face obstacles.  But how do you see joy in those situations? Take Paul for example in Acts 16.  He is once again tossed in jail, but he chooses how he is going to respond and he chooses to share God's love, to be courageous, and to not be afraid for himself.  He knows how to stand firm in spirit and to not be frightened about anything.  He also knows that the blessings he will gain from God for his work for God will far outweigh his suffering.  Talk about thinking ahead.  He isn't settling for the easy way out, or to not suffer, he is choosing to see the big picture, to stand firm in his beliefs and to choose the joy of God's love to share with others. 

Why would he do such a thing? Well, you can see this in the letter he wrote to the Philippians in Philippians 1 12:14.  Paul is joyful that his imprisonment led to others being more bold to speak. He didn't just turn scared, or blame others, or say man why does this always happen to me?  He made a choice at how he would react to the situation and he saw joy in a terrible, horrible situation.  Can you even imagine what a jail cell would have been like back then? 

James 1: 2-4 tells us our faith will be tested and we are to remain steadfast. 

This is what Paul did and the results are amazing. Read Acts 16 and see how it all turned out for him, if you haven't yet.

Being Joyful = Having Courage

The courage to do the right thing, and the courage to take back your life.  To take back your joy. 

A sentence that really struck me from the book, pg 14, "every human being wants to discover happiness and avoid suffering."

In my Philippians study, I just wrote down that we need to let our children know that suffering makes us stronger people and stronger believers.  If our children know that suffering is part of life, and to expect suffering, it makes it easier for them to overcome obstacles. I mean of course it is a natural reaction to want to avoid suffering, but if we are mentally prepared, if we know it is coming, we are going to grow from it. We will be ready to have courage, and to remain joyful in the toughest situations.

You know that life isn't fair speech you have to have with your kids, sibling, or friend.  This is that same speech, but with a twist.  A twist that brings more awareness and peace into your life.  Yes, life isn't fair.  You were handed these obstacles, and look how you have grown as a person!  You friend that has everything given to them, well they haven't been give the opportunity to grow like you have.  You have been stretched and pulled.  God has put the work into you. 

Speaking from personal experience, my kids have definitely not had an easy life.  They have certainly had plenty of obstacles to overcome.  And I think you can see that reflected in their teenage years.  They are less argumentative and more appreciative when someone just shows up for them, or asks them about their day, than your "normal" teenager that has not had to overcome obstacles.  We can reflect on everything in their lives that was not fair, or we can look to see how God has worked in their lives, and see how much stronger they are as people from everything they have had to overcome.  

So, back to our original question, how do we have more joy and more happiness? As I continue to read this book hopefully I will unlock some more items, but for today I am going to leave you with two items from page 30.

1. Materialistic values cannot give us peace of mind.  So we really need to focus on our inner values, our true humanity.  Only this way can we have peace of mind-and more peace in our world.

2. Everyone has the responsibility to develop a happier world.  We need, ultimately, to have a great concern for others' well-being.  In other words, kindness or compassion, which is lacking now. 

Just start with reflecting on the above and making a small shift in your perspective. We can do this, we can choose joy.  We get to decide how we live our lives. 

Side note, I wasn't sure what picture to share to show joy.  But, when I was scrolling though my phone this picture just stopped me.  I am so thankful to have been able to see such a beautiful sight with my family in December.  We were driving by and had to pull over to get a picture. It is just a reminder, to be thankful for the small things. 


January 23, 2022 — Brandi McDonald

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