Making Sense of Life

Making a place for joy


Would you consider yourself a joyful person? Even if you do describe yourself as upbeat, do you desire more joy in your life? If so – and I’m going out on a limb here to assume you do – where can you find it?

We seldom hear about an abundance of joy in the media or even when we overhear conversations in public. We’ve been trained as a society to look for what’s wrong in the world, not what’s right. Why is that?

If truth be told, it’s because we’ve allowed this to happen. If there’s a disaster of any kind, how many times do we watch that same video online repeatedly? It’s not like it’s going to change, but there we sit, mesmerized by tragedy or injustice.

We have choice in what we believe, what we contemplate, and what we experience. To allow someone the right to “make us happy” or “make us sad” is a great example of how we willingly give away our powers of direction and choice.

These powers cannot be taken away from us without our consent. Yet we often figuratively give away these precious abilities to people and organizations around us. We present them as if they are all wrapped up in beautiful paper, topped with a pretty bow, and handed on a silver platter to the media, authority figures in our lives, or to someone whose approval we seek.

It doesn’t do anyone any good to ignore what we see in front of us, pretending as if it wasn’t there. Ignoring the problem will not make it magically disappear. Picture yourself driving down a slick road in a blizzard. Ahead of you, through the driving snow, you can see that the bridge you’re about to cross has been washed out. There isn’t an affirmation written that will stop your car from going over the precipice if you choose to ignore the situation.

We cannot afford to close our eyes to what we see around us if we are to practice loving compassion. We don’t, however, proceed by blaming the situation on outside forces. We take stock of what we can do and do it. That’ a great plan of attack when we consider the minute-by-minute crap we’re bombarded with every day.

What does being joyful really mean? How can we be filled with joy in the midst of all we see, hear and feel around us when what we see doesn’t fit our pictures of joyful living? Our ability to be grounded in the middle of the stormy news swirling around us requires a firm foundation. It requires unshakable faith in our belief of the unity of all life and what we want our lives to be.

Believe me when I say I understand how difficult it is to turn away from news, conversation, and gossip about juicy tidbits or rumors. Our very human emotions of anger and outrage over the horrible events of war, rioting, and financial inequity – as well as others you can think of in your own life – are difficult to transcend for most of us. They don’t inspire the emotion of joy, do they?

Think of the word “joyful.” I revel in taking apart words to more fully reveal and understand their meaning. What if we changed “joyful” to “joy-full” or “joy-filled?” Close your eyes for a moment and consider for yourself what it would be like to be so filled with joy and happiness that it was literally oozing out of your pores. Reflect on the experience of bringing joy to people simply by walking in the room being that vessel of joy.

Have you ever experienced that? I know I have, both on the giving and receiving end of the event. I know people who are absolutely infectious with joy! In their presence I cannot help but feel uplifted, revitalized and excited about life no matter how down I might have been earlier in the day.

How we present ourselves makes a difference to the amount of joy we possess daily. The sum total of our joy at any given time is directly related to what we have fed our minds with in the previous minutes, hours, days and weeks. Additionally, developing healthy habits in our life and little preventative maintenance on a daily basis goes a long way to a consistency of joy.

Attitudes are contagious – make sure yours is worth catching. If you are in the habit of looking to others to create or maintain joy in your life the time has come to change that. Appreciate the little things that make you laugh. Turn away from negative self-talk. By taking care of your own happiness you’ll create a joy beyond anything you’ve experienced up until now.

Tips for Experiencing Joy:

Start your day with gratitude; end your day with forgiveness.

Meditate – just five minutes per day makes a difference.

Show love for yourself by feeding your body with nourishing foods.

Feed your mind with positive thoughts and plans for the future.

Cultivate and maintain close relationships with others.

Exercise in a way that you enjoy.

Listen to music that makes you want to dance – then dance!

Find a hobby you love.

Go “electronics free” for an hour – or a day!

Fill your mind with uplifting and encouraging reading.

Reach out for support where and when you need it.

Fall completely and totally in love with yourself!

Terry is a speaker, licensed social worker and award-winning author. Find his blog at Central Voice online or on his website at:


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