- Posted by jdavis on June 24, 2011
Here’s how to take back the joy you’ve lost:
1. Understand what joy is
Joy is not the absence of problems or stress. We all have troubles in daily life. Joy is the understanding that in spite of those troubles, we know we will be okay. It is holding onto a sense of peace and strength, security and ultimately goodness, even in the center of the storms. It is an intangible feeling that we will be carried through until we reach the other side, until better days come. It is a feeling of serenity that we are not alone, nor will ever be left all alone, to face our struggles and fears. Joy is the gift of peace that comes from knowing that no matter what happens to us, we are being given the ability to get through the challenge, to grow, to emerge to a better and healthier life. Joy is one of the best gifts we can ever create and receive.
2. Reflect on joyful moments
Even if you are going through a painful period right now in your life, make an intentional effort to think about the positive, touching, grateful moments you feel. Those moments do come to us every day. Even in the midst of sad, challenging or devastating times, there are always at least little moments of light and grace that temper the difficulties and bring some balance into each day.
3. Create time for joy now
If only for 10 minutes at a time – take a short walk, read a magazine article or story, watch children play, listen to some favorite music, view a part of a funny TV show, stare into space, look at a photo album, concentrate on something beautiful in nature allow yourself to focus on what pleases you. It will help you to transcend for that time the stresses you are facing.
Sandy says she hated reflecting on the town she grew up in. Sandy had bad memories of her first marriage there. “But,” Sandy said, “one day I called my 83-year-old mother. I told Mom that we should walk around our hometown and reflect on the good times. We talked about the joys of my grandmother’s house, hiding Easter eggs, and how we grew ecstatic when the carnival came to town.” Sandy emphasizes that focusing on joyful moments in the past, present and future makes her now feel in control of her life. “Hard days are a lot easier if you’ve had an ongoing infusion of joy,” Sandy said.
“I practiced finding joyful moments a lot over this past summer,” Sandy said. “It’s a good thing I did. When I ran into my ex-husband’s sister, she tried to slam me with hurtful words. I kept smiling and told her I was sorry she was having such a bad life.” Sandy knows that joy is an armor of self-protection. If we layer it on often enough, it begins to ooze out of our pores. “When I ran into my ex-sister-in-law, I had just had my hair done and I had been working out at the gym,” Sandy said. “Looking good always helps ward off an enemy attack!”
Before Sandy started trying to access joy, she says she was too tired to exercise and didn’t take much pride in her appearance. If your physical appearance needs work or your house is messy, you might ask yourself if you’re lacking joy.
It’s the ticket to turning things around.
Ever notice that it takes less energy to spiff up things when you’re feeling good? You can whiz through bed making, bathroom cleanups and carpooling with less stress.
Most of us can stick with a diet, stick with exercise, and get more work done for our employer if we energize ourselves with joyful thoughts and feelings.
George sits by his wife’s hospital bed these days, trapped in a world of watching her struggle. “I do go outside the hospital and look at the sky and trees,” he says. “I focus on the nice paintings in the hospital hallway, and I get a real kick out of having my favorite coffee before I go into the hospital chapel to meditate.” George knows that joy is all about focus. He finds small bits of time to focus on what feels harmonious and right. Without these moments, his spirit would die.
The stories are excerpted from “Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress” by Judy Hopson, Emma Hopson and Ted Hagen.