I spent some time walking around outside admiring the bare trees and the senescence all around me. My mind went right to the autumn leaves and how this year, in the southwestern area of Pennsylvania, I did not see the colorful show we are usually blessed with in this area. The celebration around the change of leaf color – and the sun bursting through the trees illuminating the color even more – was minimal.
Henri Nouwen said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” I missed partaking in the autumn show of beauty. However, I don’t linger with those thoughts. What would be the point? Seasons move on, nature gives us what nature is going to give us, regardless of what is in the transition.
I chose JOY. I did, however, think about climate change. I pondered and wondered how serious is it, as we all watched the devastation from the tornadoes this past couple of weeks. Our hearts go out to those affected by nature’s fury.
Finding Joy In Hard Times
Our focus this month is on choosing joy, but how do people find joy during that kind of devastation? The holiday season proclaims, “Joy to the world, good will towards men,” and your heart should be filled with joy because it is the most wonderful time of the year. I wonder a bit about joy especially for those that are struggling with loss.
For me, I think the joy of the season is in anticipation of something magical or faith based. After all, the Grinch’s heart grew three times its size from the mere joy of the Spirit of Christmas morning, all without boxes, packages and bows.
Tim Cook said, “Let your joy be in the journey, not in some distant goal.” Hard to do when looking at the daily news. We don’t see a lot of joy. I often say to myself and others that if every news channel, for just one month, would just talk about all the good that people are doing everywhere – then, perhaps, the positivity of the message just might shift the mindsets of those that choose to focus on the negative, the bad and the evil.
After all, look at the areas hit by the tornadoes and all the good that people are doing around the nation to help. I ponder as well, that just perhaps, those that are choosing the opposite of joy, are just like the Grinch, somehow, they just lost their way in life and lost the mere Joy of living™!
Getting Joy Back In Your Life
So, how can someone get joy back in their life? As my message above indicates, I am choosing to change my mindset and focus on the joy I can find in the little things of my life. Just like the changing season, from autumn to winter, I was disappointed, but I chose to focus on something else that was beautiful in nature.
What is joy? Is it just mere happiness? A fleeting feeling or emotion that waxes and wanes? Some research indicates that joy is understood as an emotional response to what matters most in our lives. Other research claims it is a virtue, an enduring, deep delight that can both surprise and sustain us.
What do you think joy is?
At Hope Grows, we think that joy is both of those things, as well as a practice. By taking time to explore oneself and understand what matters most in your life, one can begin to preserve joy, find strength, and maintain balance. It is difficult, especially while caregiving, to sustain joy, when surrounded by stress, struggles, pain and suffering. However, it is within those struggles that one can truly learn what matters most.
Joy of Living™
Hope Grows provides a six-week opportunity for education, learning, sharing and growing, a program called the Joy of Living™! The educational series is about awareness of coping, self-care and recognizing areas of personal well-being. Because loss is a part of caregiving, the series was developed to address both current and past caregivers. Each week, one of six key elements is introduced to help one focus on finding and maintaining joy. By encouraging the use of positive, mindful, and holistic techniques, empowerment becomes the cornerstone of shaping one’s journey. Pam Grout, an author, once said, “Be committed to living in constant joy!”
Join us in 2022 for the hybrid course of the Joy of Living™ and email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.