If you are like me, it is nearly impossible to stay in your “happy place.” This familiar catch phrase has provided us with creative and desperate ways to escape from reality. A weekend getaway. A walk on the beach. Your favorite book or breezy song. Or the simpler delight of a favorite food or dessert. (Yellow cake and chocolate buttercream frosting makes me happy.) But the pleasure we get from these moments usually vanishes as fast as it appears.
What exactly is “happy?” And why do we pursue it so aggressively? It is impossible to maintain this unpredictable emotion. Wealth, career, successes, and relationships bring us moments of happiness, but they are not capable of producing constant feelings of contentment. Happiness, like any emotion, is a reaction. It appears effortlessly when something good happens. It ebbs and flows like waves of the sea.
At one point in my life during a time of struggle, I realized I needed to shift my focus. Instead of escaping to my “happy place,” I started cultivating joy. Joy is an inner state, an attitude of the heart, a perspective we embrace, a constant. Joy does not depend on our circumstances, rather it is a practice and behavior of the soul. To seek the good. To find meaning and purpose.
God wants us to walk in joy.
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV) We were created to be joyful!
This blog explores tools, practices and perspectives to develop inner joy. Through personal stories of triumph, expert opinions, and the wisdom of scripture, we will discover ways to “be joyful always,” in every area of life. Indeed, the two practices mentioned in our verses help me tap into my own inner joy: (1) praying continually – this elevates my thoughts to the Creator of the universe, the One who created and knows me, the only One able to do immeasurably more than I could ask or can imagine, and (2) giving thanks in all circumstances - this helps me shift my attention and focus on the good things around me.
I will enjoy that happy feeling the next time I bite into my favorite chocolate cake. But in addition, I know I have the inner joy to face every day with confidence - no matter what it brings. Where is your attention? You might be surprised how focusing on God, the source of joy, will transform your life… and your happy place.
We are encouraged to “give thanks in all circumstances.” So how do we choose joy in the face of challenges, tragedy, and pain. We will explore that in our next post!
For more information and resources to cultivate joy in your life, visit us at joyfullifeprograms.org.