Cultivating Joy In Life

With Tuscon just around the corner, and my heart overwhelmed with excitement and joy, I have it on my heart to share with you how to cultivate joy. 

Did you know that rejoice means 'to joy'? The greek word for rejoice is in the plural form, so it seems like if you’re going 'to joy,’ then you ought to experience it with other people, than 'to joy' alone. (I can’t wait to joy with you!)

I love Tuscon, because it is a place where people experience joy through gemstones. The experience of bonds created in Tuscon is similar to meeting a fellow dog-lover, and connecting on your mutual love for animals, but instead with gems. For most of the people in attendance, this show is their ultimate joy, as it is a culmination of things that should all be celebrated: peoples, cultures, and mother nature’s miracle, gemstones!

Since not everyone gets to experience the joy of the gem show, I wanted to share with you other ways to live joyously (as a self-pronounced expert on the subject) ;). 

Did you know that celebration is a way to move towards joy? It could be a celebration of something small like the fact that you finished the work week (TGIF), or it could be a holiday or birthday. When you choose to forgo celebrating, you could be passing up a chance to experience joy. 

Celebration is when we pay special attention to all that is good. -John Mark Comer

Two Ways to Live with Joy 

  1. Set your mind on joy
  2. Move your body into joy 

Setting Your Mind on Joy

We think of our relationship with happiness as passive, and not active. When joy come on its own, its truly a gift, but it’s also something we have to keep choosing. “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday.” -Henri J.M. Nouwen

There is no happiness switch, so most of us live in a state of unhappy. We have much more control over the state of our thinking than we realize. Our feelings follow our thinking.

In your brain there is an area called ‘the joy center, in right prefrontal cortex. This is the only part of the brain that never loses its capacity to grow.
We can’t will joy, but we can will a thoughtful life that will allow a better outcome. 

The decision to set the mind on the higher things of life is an act of the will. That is why celebration is a discipline. It is not something that falls on our heads. It is a result of a consciously chosen way of thinking and living.   -Richard Foster

Move Your Body Into Joy

What does this mean? It means sleep, diet, and exercise! Yes, I’m telling you that naps will get you closer to achieving joy! It’s hard to experience joy if your vessel for joy is broken. Personally, I love to move my body into joy by smiling at strangers, dancing, singing, and hugs. 

Suffering is inevitable, but joy is not. Pete Greig

The Pursuit of Joy 

  1. Surrender the illusion of control. If life is hard, pray to whatever God you subscribe to, or put it out in the universe, and walk away. Let go of anxiousness by letting go of control of outcomes. As long as you are emotionally connected to outcomes, it will be difficult to find happiness. If there is deep heaviness in your heart, ask for help in releasing it, and leave it to a higher power to help you. From my experience, there is power in asking out loud, or by writing it down, rather than just asking in your head. I challenge you to try it!
  2. Be Thankful. The happiest people I know are the most grateful.
  3. Focus on the Good. Where is your mind spending the most time? What we think about has the potential to make our mind the ultimate prison, or can lead us to ultimate freedom. 
I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude. -Brene Brown
When we’re young, our primary temptation is lust. As we get older, that temptation turns to anger and bitterness. We can choose to grow in one of two directions as we go on in live, in joy, or in bitterness. If we discipline our mind to pursue joy in the way that we discipline ourselves to work out on a regular basis, it’ll be difficult for that bitterness to enter our hearts.

Joy is a cultivated way of seeing the world in your mind. Discipline your mind to focus on goodness. Rearrange the direction of your heart.

Practicing Joy

Here are a few ways to actively practice joy: 

Try singing - Karaoke anyone?
Celebrating holidays 
Honoring traditions 
Rest - it will orient your life towards joy 
Eat - Meals take friends and turn them into family, it takes lonely souls and brings them together

I’m going to be celebrating and moving towards joy at the gem show this week (don’t worry I’ll be sharing my joy on Instagram!), and I invite you to celebrate this week as well! Celebrate life, your health, the scrumptious meal you’re eating, and invite others to celebrate with you! Joy comes with an element of risk. If you connect your heart to your life, you are risking pain, but it is all worth it. We have a responsibility to rejoice in this amazing life we are given.

I’d love to know your thoughts, and how you’re celebrating. I know I’ll be celebrating by buying myself a pretty rock this week! :)

P.S. An extra daily measure to contemplate your cultivation of joy. Do this instead of scrolling on Instagram before going to bed!

Examine the previous 24 hours of our life. Ask yourself several questions: Where did I feel most alive? Where did I feel the most joy? When did I feel most connected to myself and those around me? Where did I feel most anxious, frustrated or angry? When did I feel most disconnected from myself?

P.P.S. A big thank you to Church of The City in Franklin, TN for inspiring and providing direct content for this post! 
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