Today, I turn my blog over to Julie Blank. She will show you 4 ways to choose JOY!
And, you will find her bio at the end of the post.
Take it away, Julie…..
You may have heard the phrase, “happiness is based on circumstances, joy is a choice.”
At ARMS/Abuse Recovery Ministry Services, we have a lesson in Her Journey (abuse survivor recovery program) all about this. When I first heard it nine years ago as I was working through my healing, it was new to me. I am now so confident of its truth that I purchased a little chalkboard for my office which houses those very words: choose joy. I had planned a new phrase on there every month! This was before I discovered that the “chalk” I had purchased was permanent ink that looks like chalk.
Now with a continual reminder that I often need to daily (and even hourly) choose joy, I decided that it wasn’t an accident. It’s not a bad message to have if you need to choose a permanent one to soak into your mind.
What helps me choose joy?
Don’t you love it when science “discovers” something that the Bible told us long ago? Last year, science decided that the act of gratitude rewires the brain when there has been trauma. Initially, an act of gratitude releases dopamine and serotonin which give us feel-good warmth. But long-term, an attitude of gratitude actually strengthens pathways in our brain and allows us to ultimately create a grateful nature within ourselves.
God already said that thankfulness is important. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV) And Isaiah 61:30 “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Finding Joyful Practices
Recently, I received confirmation that praising God does indeed lift my spirits. I love to sing at church and realized that after singing praises in a group, my heart truly is lifted, and I feel happier. So I put it to the test on the commute and it worked well. On mornings when I sing along with worship songs on the way to work, I enter work with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step.
What brings you joy? Gardening? Swimming? Writing? I am very intentional about inserting activities into my week which bring me joy. Consider it important self-care and make it happen.
Much of the time, physical activity is limited for me. And to be honest, I’m not too prone to it anyway. It’s easy to make excuses instead of making it happen. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell me (and my family) that my mood is much improved when I decide to make it happen anyway.
My friend Lea walks daily-rain or shine. Not only is she in better shape than I, but she seems happier. That’s no accident. Exercise, as we know, increases endorphins, decreases hunger and gives an emotional lift. God created exercise to help keep our bodies and minds in good condition. I remind myself to say “yes” to a walk at lunch or after dinner, even when I don’t feel like it, and it does improve my mood, helping me to choose joy.
“This will end well.” This is a promise that God has given to us in Romans 8:28 and other scriptures. He is in charge. He loves us dearly. And although sometimes trusting Him is also a choice, it is a choice that I make daily. No matter what is going on in this life and as tough as those circumstances sometimes are, they indeed are temporary. I (and I hope you) are only here briefly. Our lives in heaven (where life is perfect and there is no pain) will be eternal.
When I keep this as a focus, it changes things. It changes the decisions I make. It changes the opportunities that I take (or don’t take) and it helps me to choose joy. Psalm 3:5 (NIV) says “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
I choose to trust and in that I find joy because very few things really matter in this life when we are heaven-focused.
Need some daily inspiration towards joy? I recommend Louise’s new daily devotional book on joy.
And here is the link. Discover Your Joy
Bio: Julie Bonn Blank does enjoy gardening, writing and occasionally swimming but mostly she enjoys helping others with the lessons she has learned in life. She resides in Oregon. She and her husband have four grown children and a grandchild soon to come, as well as a mini Australian Shephard named Mocha. By day she works for ARMS and in addition designs websites, writes and facilitates North Coast Christian Writers.
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Here are other posts about choosing JOY that I’m sure you will enjoy!
Choosing JOY Every Day
Choosing JOY When You Don’t Feel Joyful
Living an Inspired Life Full of JOY
5 Simple Keys to Happiness and JOY
The Amazing Benefits of Gratitude
How Do I Discover My JOY
5 Surprising Secrets to Living a JOY-Filled Life