This week I'm part of a video that has been put together by Michelle Reeves, who formally blogged at Bod for Tea and now at The Joy Chaser and The Essex Barn. Michelle and I first got chatting back in 2010 when she was an expat living in China and a fairly new mummy. When I started my Reasons to be Cheerful linky in January 2011 Michelle was one of the first to join in and it was clear even then that she wanted to seek out the joy and the good in life, turning her back on old habits of negativity.
You can read about Michelle's journey to joy and how she has found her new happy over on her new blog but being involved with this project has had me reflecting on the subject of happiness and joy and how for me they are very different constructs.
I know most people use the terms interchangeably and I think perhaps my perspective is different due to my faith. I view happiness as something very surface, usually dependant on external circumstances and it is normally achieved when everything is going your way and life (or a situation) is good. Whereas joy is always achievable, even in the darkest of times because it is an internal; found in our relationship with Jesus. It is a gift that He freely gives to us, in the same way He extends His grace. All these amazing things that we don't deserve and yet He wants us to receive them freely.
I've been struggling with the term happy for a few years now as happiness is not something I choose to seek out or chase. My life isn't lived to satisfy my own needs and to increase my happiness, it is lived to serve Jesus and to develop my relationship with Him. Now I want to be clear here, I'm not trying to disrespect or diminish anyone that seeks happiness, we all choose our own path.
For instance I love the movement that Karin has started with her positive group #EmbraceHappy but the actual title I really can't get to grips with. For me it would need to be #embracejoy or #choosejoy. However the part I really get on board with is the #3goodthings idea that seeks to ensure we are choosing gratitude and looking for the good in life.
I know the saying has been around many years but it is Karin that encapsulates it for me -
It is so true, there is good in every day and here are a few keys I have adopted in my life that ensure I remain content and joyful -
1. Understanding that joy is different to happiness and cannot be snatched away from me. I choose my attitude and I choose to grab onto Jesus' joy and to embrace it. When we wake in the morning and make a conscious decision that today will be a positive day we set ourselves up for joy.
2. To stop seeking things. When I learn to desire what I already have, I am content and that is an absolute blessing that cannot be underestimated. All the time I seek or pursue money, fame, new clothes, a bigger house, power, sex, respect or anything else I will not be really filled with joy. To be content is to be joyful.
3. To adopt an attitude of gratitude. Being grateful has changed my life. I kid you not. I started to work on this character trait about 15 years ago but it is in the last five years that I have changed a great deal. Acknowledging the good in my life every day and seeking the glimmers of gold (or the reason to be cheerful) keeps you grounded and reminds you that every day is full of blessings, just sometimes you have to search really hard for them and in doing so you lift your own spirit and develop a wonderful positive discipline that is contagious.
I'll leave you with the video that I contributed to Michelle's new site The Joy Chaser, answering the question - what makes you happy? (I of course interpreted that as what makes you joyful?) You can view the full video HERE which includes contributions from many different bloggers.
I hope you can find the joy in today. Mich xx
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