Habit of Joy

In trying to keep with “special” Joyful entries during this last week of the year, I’m finding it hard to think outside of “What was my joyful moment today?” It’s an automatic thought now as I sit down to write, which is both a good and a bittersweet thing. It makes me realize how I’m going to miss going through the daily assessment of the best moments of the day and what I’m grateful for. I wish I could say this is the new normal! but I’m afraid a mental inventory won’t be the same as blogging. Somehow putting into words my joyful moments makes them concrete, and without doing that, I’m afraid the exercise will simply cease to be something I maintain for the next 365 days.

Hopefully I’m wrong. And in any event, I still want to mention the Joyful moments of the day, even if I don’t elaborate:

-sleeping in, and reading the same scriptures from Day by Day (appointed for today) and She Reads Truth (for Tuesday, but I neglected catching up until today). They were the same chapters in both Jeremiah and Matthew. It is so exciting when that happens!

-hanging out with a Greek woman in our local nursing home who’s starting to experience Alzheimer’s. She asked me over and over again when I was going back to Greece, and we repeatedly got to share our love and longing for Greece. I get you.

-catching up with an old friend whom I haven’t seen in years, and realizing certain truths I never understood before. It’s good to be on this side of things, to see that it’s all a puzzle and the pieces fall together in their correct time.

Something JTPP (John the Portland Pastor) talked about in one of his sermons was how our habits form who we are, and that to change what we do can also change us—it can transform the desires of our hearts.

The things we do we tend to want to do more of, and the things we don’t do, we lose the desire to do them.

Example: I used to watch TV a lot, every time I ate a meal, all during the evenings, keeping it as background noise for hours and hours. Then I went to grad school and was without tv and internet for a month. In that time I experienced crazy withdrawals and decided to start reading while I ate, to keep my mind busy. Soon, I started to enjoy reading while I ate; I even looked forward to it. And when my tv was finally hooked up, I didn’t care about watching it anymore and chose instead to read (8 years later and I still rarely watch television).

We are all being formed by something. Think of the hours you spend:

binge watching Netflix

listening to music

checking social media

updating fantasy teams

And consider:

To numb the mind is not the same as to refresh it.

The messages that repeatedly go into your ears are the ones that shape your thoughts. What messages are you listening to?

Connection through a device can never replace the person or place that is actually in front of you.

To compare is to despair.

The reason I love this project is that it is life giving. It taught me to set my heart on things above rather than earthly things, to be grateful in all circumstances, to find whatever was excellent or praiseworthy and think about such things. It was a habit that changed me from the outside in.

The Joyfulness Project did, indeed, offer joy because it made a habit out of gratitude and seeking that which was beautiful around me. The more I looked, the more I found, and the easier it was to find it, and the more I wanted to not only find Joyful things, but to contribute to them.

As 2018 comes upon us, I challenge you to think about where you spend the most time, and then answer this. Is this activity helping you live your life to the fullest measure? Are you filling your mind with positive things? If not, what’s one habit you can change to enrich your thoughts, heart, or spirit?

As long as there’s breath, there’s hope. I wish for the best changes for you in 2018.