Have you ever noticed when babies are fed, dry and warm you don’t see them angry or having a temper tantrum ready to throw their bottle at someone? They are usually in their natural state of joy, which is our natural state as well. Yet, as we enter this holiday season with celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa or perhaps the Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe, many people will not experience the joy that is our birthright and that these observances seek to engender. In fact, a significant percentage of the population will feel depressed, and not all because of genetics, a chemical imbalance or the ordinary pressures of life. We often wonder at the world’s dampened conversations and think, “what happened to that joyous energy that we all had when we came into this world?” It seems like a tidal wave of pessimism has washed ashore and the emotional energy of the world is flat-lining. And when we get caught up in the news headlines, it’s easy for the lack of joy to seem justified.
But scientific research has uncovered something interesting: many who experience lack of joy in their life suffer from something much worse than anything happening outside of themselves; they are victims of their own harmful thoughts. Jesus, who represents the Christ presence and potential in all of us, notes that he came to demonstrate how our joy might be full and complete and serves as a reminder that we are here to practice joy in our life regardless of the challenges we face. This requires us to examine our thoughts and where we are directing our energy. If we consistently practice reorienting our thoughts and attention, we can become masters of joy in our lives during this holiday season and all year round.
While there are no definitive “how to’s” for this, here are three strategies to help keep us in joy:
Realize you always have a choice. Our greatest spiritual freedom is the ability to choose the palette of our emotional sky. We alone can activate the very energy and emotion we want to experience. If we wish to feel joy in our lives, then we must direct our thoughts and behaviors to accomplish that end. This must be done constantly and with repetition so that emotion becomes the automatic color of our daily attitude.
Release resentful thoughts. To have joy in life, never, ever entertain malicious thoughts toward others. Even if it seems justified. When we let go of such resentful thoughts, we are not only doing others a favor, we also stop hurting ourselves. Carrying grievances puts a stop to our joy and that is no way to live.
Rejoice in other people’s good. Because we are all interconnected, whenever one person is lifted up, we all are blessed. Whatever we want in our own life, celebrate that same thing in others. This strategy becomes even more potent when we can apply this principle to people we don’t necessarily like. If there is someone you are at odds with, think of something you want for yourself and pray that they have it, also.
As you make these strategies a way of life, you will not only grow in wisdom and understanding; you will become a master in activating joy during the holiday season and every day of your life.
Peace and Blessings,