"The prospect of the righteous is joy."
Have you ever noticed babies? If they are fed, dry, and warm, you never see an angry baby or see one in a temper tantrum ready to throw a bottle at someone. They are usually in a state of joy. It is their natural state, and it’s our natural state as well.
We are about to enter this holiday season, and there will be celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, or perhaps the Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Yet, many people will not experience the joy these observances seek to engender. A significant percentage of the population - up to 25% in the United States - will feel depressed. Most of the depression will not be due to genetics, a chemical imbalance, or the usual pressures of life.
We have the gifts of divine vitality and the faculty of joy. However, as we look around and listen to some of the conversations that people have we may ask, "What happened to that joyous energy that we all had when we came into this world?" Sometimes it feels like a tidal wave of pessimism has washed ashore, and the emotional energy of the world is flat-lining. 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 people who lack joy in their lives suffer from something deadlier than anything happening outside of themselves - they are victims of their harmful thoughts.
Jesus, who represents the Christ presence and potential in all of us, noted that he came to demonstrate how our joy might be "full" and complete. He serves as a reminder that we are here to practice wonder in our life, regardless of the challenges we face. Such practice requires that we examine where we are directing our attention since energy flows where our attention goes. If we consistently practice reorienting our attention, we can become masters of joy in our lives, not only during this holiday season but all year round.
While there are no definitive “how to’s” on this, we can use strategies to keep us in joy. Here are three:
1. 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 energy and emotion we want to start. If we wish to feel joy in our lives, we must direct our thoughts and behaviors to accomplish that end. The positive direction of our thoughts must be done constantly and with repetition so that emotion becomes the color of our daily attitude.
2. Release resentful thoughts. To have joy in life, never entertain negative thoughts toward others. Even if it seems justified, we are not doing others a favor when we let go of such resentful thoughts. Instead, when we no longer carry a grudge, we stop hurting ourselves. Holding grievances is no way to live, and we frustrate our joy.
3. Rejoice in other people’s good. Because we are all interconnected, whenever one person is blessed, we all are blessed. So, whatever we want in our own life, we celebrate that same thing with others. This strategy becomes even more potent when we apply this principle to people we don't necessarily like. If you are at odds with someone, think of something you want for yourself and pray that they have it.
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, as well as every day of your life.
Peace and Blessings,