Friday, December 15, 2017

The Season for Joy

Living amongst the poorest of poor, I realized that true happiness and joy come from within.  I’ve been on multiple mission trips to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. One might think that in a country overrun with poverty, corruption, disease, and a lack of food and water, stress would be a problem. I expected to see people worried about things like food, water, sanitation, disease, and education.  While the people of Haiti live in some of the worst poverty, in which the pursuit of food and clean water is often a daily challenge, they are also the most joyful people I’ve ever met. Joy isn't a response to circumstances, it's a choice.

Love What You Do
Life’s not just about a destination, but it’s also about the journey to that destination. Stop saying, “Thank God it’s Friday.” Stop saying, “I can’t wait until…” And start saying, “Thank God it’s today.” The American workforce has expressions like “hump day” to illustrate the fact that we tolerate work for five days so we can live on the weekends.  It’s time to rethink our attitudes. It’s time to approach work with a spirit of thankfulness and joy.  A job isn’t a curse, it’s a gift and a blessing.  It’s an opportunity to grow, learn, develop, be creative, make a difference in the lives of others, and make some money in the process.  If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Manage Stress
It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it” ~ Lou Holtz. When bad things happen, how do you respond? Successful people anticipate and act proactively to avoid or minimize stressful situations. When in stressful situations, successful people remain calm and respond positively. They adapt to the situation and figure out what needs to be done. They introduce joy to any situation. On the other hand, unsuccessful people react with pessimism and negativity.  Instead of remaining calm, they overreact, they create drama, they addict, and they allow stress to take control. If stress controls you, it will ultimately bring you down—in addition to the inevitable health issues, it will destroy your joy. “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” ~Matthew 6:27.  

Choose Joy
Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruits of the spirit are peace, love, joy…” Notice the two key words: fruit, joy. This isn’t a suggestion, it’s a divine command for you to produce fruit by being peaceful, loving, and joyful.  Think about it - you can produce fruit for others by being joyful!  Joy is contagious. You can choose to infect others with negativity and pessimism, or you can choose to positively impact others with passion and joy.  Joy creates a slice of Heaven for those around you.  “The best thing you can do, the best fruit you can produce, to change the world is to create a little slice of Heaven for someone every day.” ~Tom Hagan.  

The Challenge
Joy isn’t based on circumstance, it’s based on attitude. Joy is an everyday decision we need to make - at home, at work, and in our communities. We can choose to be joyful in spite of our circumstances, or we can choose to allow others and/or our circumstance to dictate our happiness.  Don’t be a victim. Don’t allow others to control your outcome. Own it. Take control.  Choose to be joyful, choose to create a slice of heaven for someone every day, and choose to make a difference.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

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