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I Choose ... JOY

I CHOOSE JOY – 8/29/18

“I’m ALWAYS happy!”... said no adult ever! Every average person knows being happy 24/7 is not possible. When we see someone always in a good mood, we often become suspicious of what may be lying underneath the surface. Happiness however, is different than joy. Happiness is the fun at birthday parties, the laugh at a friend’s joke, and the natural smile that comes when our world seems to be in alignment, even for a moment. But the birthday parties end, the friend leaves, and the smile fades as reality sets back in.

Now, I pride myself on being a positive person. I was always given the “little ray of sunshine” title growing up and have remained fairly optimistic in my adult years. I am still considered naïve when always looking for the best in people. And people tend not to understand my ability to move past something and leave it behind me.

And yet, ironically, this optimist battles the joy-stealing and energy-sapping disease... depression. However, depressed people are capable of being happy. Happy, yes. Joyful... now there is the issue.

Joy goes much deeper than happiness. It’s rooted in knowing the future is bright and you’re okay while you wait. Joy is the talks over a family dinner, the laughs at a coffee date that was long overdue, the offkey singing when your favorite song comes on the radio, and the natural smile when you see your loved one after a long day. And that is what depression likes to attack: the “I’m okay where I am” part of life.

Depression’s offenses are nagging lies: “I could be doing better,” “I can’t take another moment of this,” “My life is falling apart,” and “I don’t know what else to try.” Our defense? Joy.

Before you say, “Oh, you don’t understand. It’s not that easy,” let me remind you... I DO understand. Choosing joy is the toughest decision I make every day. It isn’t easy, it isn’t pretty, and somedays it would be much easier to just curl up in bed and mope (which I may do at least twice a month... I’m working on it, okay?) It’s so much easier to cling to the last happy moment and live in misery until another one strikes. But what kind of life is that? Joy is a necessity to living to the fullest. If it wasn’t, I don’t think God would have put it in the fruit of the spirit. If we don’t choose joy, we are only asking for a poor life, and personally, I don’t want to live like that. So, no, it’s not easy, but it’s our only choice.

I have no magic words on how to make your life more joyful, because if you really look at it, it is already full of joy. You just have to make the conscious decision to notice it. Life keeps moving, so stop saving your smiles for special occasions. I may not always be happy, and my depression may steal my energy, deplete my mental power, and try to snuff out my light, but I will NEVER stop choosing joy. Because the world needs more little rays of sunshine.

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