The Practice of Joy

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Part of my Christmas Light Display

Joy can seem elusive for some folks.  Is it the epitome of happiness?  Is it fleeting and rare?  I used to think so.  I once thought joy was something that happened to you at the special moments in life and while I  definitely have felt joy in those moments I have come to realize joy is attainable on a daily basis.  The secret? You have to practice.

 My boss a few years back when things were particularly stressful would remind the staff to practice joy and would even sign off his weekly missives and emails with negative news, practicing joy!  I would chuckle, which did bring a smile to my face, not so sure I felt joy. He used it so often it became a bit of a joke around the staff. It was bantered back and forth as frequently as good morning. After all how could we find joy in furloughs, deep scrutiny of job performance or extra work expectations (not from him but from the district or state level)?  Really what he was saying was if you adjust your reaction and attitude it will get better.

As I have written before, the loss of signifigant people in my life close together caused me to have what Oprah would call an “aha” moment. In that moment I made joy a choice and began to practice it in earnest.  Daily joy takes work at first, especially because the rest of the world is not necessarily on board. Daily trials and tribulations big and small, still lurk around every corner. By adjusting my attitude and choosing to react to negative people and situations with love and compassion, everyday life became more joyful.  The ordinary became extraordinary. The mundane tasks in life became more enjoyable.  Joy became part of daily life, not just fleeting moments in life.

I’d like to think I am a better person for it and perhaps my joyful approach will help someone else experience daily joy. I am not saying I no longer experience sadness, anger, or disappointment, I am human after all, but these emotions are the ones that have become fleeting.  Now I feel as if my joy is my suit of armor, protecting me as I move through life, allowing me to deflect the negative emotions with greater skill.

The Christmas season is a natural time for Joy it is in the sentiments on our cards and we feel it in our hearts when we give to others.  Here is the challenge, let this season be the launch pad for your own practice of joy and then carry it forward with you into the new year.  What do you have to lose?  Just the negatives.  Daily joy can make a significant difference in how you feel and how you view the world.  So, I wish you joy each and every day. I am off to spend gobs of money on car repair, (ugh!) but I am looking forward to sitting in the waiting area, sipping a latte and reading a good book practicing joy!

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