Joy. It’s a mysterious quality of life. Everybody wants it. We have all sought it from the wrong places. Joy, indeed, from our humanity’s perspective at least, is a sort of holy grail we seek with which to ‘contain’ our lives.
The key to joy is our thinking. The key to many things is our thinking.
“You don’t think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking.”
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932 – 1996)
Pause over those Nouwen quotes. I’m sure they were not written at the same time, but they do speak to, and complement, each other.
Living our way into a new kind of thinking is consistent with behavioural psychology theory. But choosing joy (the second quote) is an attitude – which is a complementary psychological theory called cognitive theory. So using both methods helps us strike at joy from two angles, not just one.
The key is commitment: to commit to behaving the way we need to and commit to thinking the way we need to.
Two Ways to Sustaining Joy
There are two causes of depression: dissatisfaction in relationships and dissatisfaction with achievements. It might be simplistic, but if we work on our relationships and achieve some of our goals, joy will fortify us against depressive conditions emotionally.
Note the operative word, “work.”
If we are prepared to work for joy – by trouble shooting relational issues and by working appropriately hard on our goals – we are likely to experience more joy.
Being prepared to work requires attitude and action; it applies both forms of psychology raised above.
So what we are doing is working in four ways for joy: our thinking with our acting, and on our relationships and goals.
Joy is not beyond any of us. No matter what we have experienced, or how sorrowful or despairing life is or has been, we have joy within our grasp as anyone has.
If we preclude ourselves from joy because we think it’s out of our grasp then we negate what this article is saying – our thoughts dictate how far we can go so far as joy is concerned. And if we are not prepared to work to find, establish and sustain joy then we probably don’t deserve it.
Joy is within reach; a joy in all circumstances. It’s about thinking and acting on relationships and goals, being prepared to think positively and do what’s required.
Joy is about good thoughts and wise actions, and a commitment to healthy relationships and the achievement of goals.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.