Monday, April 30, 2012

Choosing Joy

So, life is crazy. There are ups and downs. There are things that you assume are constant and then aren't. There are things that make you happy. There are things that make you sad. There are things that happen that you think you will never recover from. There are things that happen that aren't fair.

So much has happened in my life lately that I don't know how to deal with. People tell me that I will be stronger in the end. That I am better off (or will be anyway). That I will be restored. That God has a plan. That God is in control. That I deserve better. Maybe they're right. But, right now I am sad. So, what can I do?

1 Thessalonians 5:16 says "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

Pretty much sums it up. I have to choose to be joyful. The Bible clearly says to always be joyful. That's not going to come naturally and there are going to be times (probably lots of times) that I don't feel like being joyful, but during those times I have to pitch a fit, stomp my feet and throw things on the ground choose to be joyful. I have to curl up in a fetal position and cry my eyes out choose to be thankful. I believe that it is a shift in mindset. I may feel sad, but that doesn't mean that I have to accept it. I reject the sadness and choose joy instead.

"How do you do that?" you may ask. Well, here are my remedies:

1. First and foremost I get out my Bible. Reading the Bible and spending some time in prayer is a great way for me to gain perspective. It reminds me of the goodness of God. It puts my heart back where it needs to be. Psalm 119:105 says "Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path." Spending time with God, especially in His Word guides me and shows me how I should be thinking and feeling.

2. Nature. When I'm feeling down it helps me to get into nature. Sunshine, rain, fresh cut grass, stars, ocean, mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, flowers...any of these helps me feel more centered. Nature helps me to find my place in the universe. It reminds me that I am a part of something much bigger than myself, and while my problems are important, they are not the end of the world.

3. Creativity. Sometimes the best way to stop being sad is to get those emotions out creatively. My friend Amy (who writes a blog called Life With Luke which you should read because it is hilarious!)is an art therapist and is much better at explaining things like this, but in my limited knowledge of the subject it seems like expressing yourself creatively is a way to release thoughts and emotions out of yourself...sometimes it releases things you didn't even know were there. I mean, let's face it, how often did you see Bob Ross unhappy? You can paint, you can draw, you can sculpt, you can write, you can sing, you can play instruments, you can act, you can dance....there's a huge number of creative things you can do.

4. Talk it out. We all know about my love for therapy. A great way to get past the sadness is to talk it out. Maybe you don't want to go to a therapist, no problem, go to a friend. But, make sure it is someone you trust to not spread your business around and whose advice you trust, because when you start to talk it out you become very vulnerable. I also like this piece of advice when it comes to talking it out.

5. Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Seems simple right? Well, I don't know if it's simple, but I always feel better after I exercise. If I'm feeling sad and stuck in my head I try to choose a form of exercise that I have to focus on rather than something that allows my mind to wander. For example, I'll go to the dojo and take a karate class rather than hop on the treadmill or elliptical for an hour. Yoga is also really great for refocusing your body and your mind.

These are 5 things that work for me. What do you do to help you choose joy?


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