Joy is a Choice.
No really, Joy is a CHOICE. How you look at things is up to you. You can’t control the circumstances, but you sure can control how you react and feel about them. When my kids were little, I’d envy the array of emotional storms that would pass over them within the course of an hour. HAPPY, MAD, SAD, EXCITED, CONTENT…and on and on and on. Like little thundershowers, the feelings would come and they would go. To this day, they still don’t hold grudges, they don’t stay mad, they let the feelings come and then pass on through.
I heard a preacher once who said, “They’re just feelings – they come and they go. Don’t get too locked down on them because then the feelings control you.”
It’s hard though isn’t it? When someone hurts you, disappoints you, frustrates you, angers you…to just, feel the pain – and let it go.
Somewhere along the way, instead of letting the feelings pass through, we started allowing the feelings to linger and turn into resentment.
Here’s what I think about the sticky icky resentment – it’s not a feeling. It’s a choice. And when you choose resentment, you’re holding on to the ick. You’re allowing the feeling to stick and fester. And that ick isn't good for your health.
Conversely, you could feel it – and let it pass through.
There’s a great story in Jon Muth’s “Zen Shorts” about an old monk who was treated very rudely by a woman on the road. The rest of the journey his travelmate stews about how awfully the old monk was treated. When he brings it up at the end of the day, he expresses his outrage, “That woman back there was so rude. You picked her up, carried her on your back, and she didn’t even thank you.” To which the older monk replied, “I set the woman down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”
I loved this illustration.
You get to choose what goes on up in your noggin. You have control over what goes on in your brain. I’m not saying don’t have feelings. Everybody has feelings. But then, it’s your choice to let it pass.
And you can be PROACTIVE about joy. Seek it out! Make it a practice! There was a guy I kind of dug in college who put it best, “Wake up laughing. It sets the tone for your whole day.”
What if we did that? What if we woke up laughing? What if we CHOSE JOY. Every day.
We’d be happier. We’d be healthier. Inside and outside.
Today – choose joy. Choose to not let the circumstances of life push you off of that lovely center. Stay in it. Have a joy-filled day.
Peace. Love. Joy.