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Even though it may not always seem like it, we are hard-wired for joy! Joy was our natural state when we lived in the presence of God before this life, and that’s why it feels so good to us here. It feels like “HOME”.
Lehi taught, “Men are that they might have joy.” (2 Ne 2:25) Notice, however, that he doesn’t say “men are that they will have joy.” Joy is not automatic, but it IS possible for us to experience it every day when we learn to focus on it.
Friendly or Hostile Universe?
Einstein is alleged to have said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.” It’s crucial to notice our tendencies toward either so we can change them if we need to. Which type of person are you? Whichever way we are viewing the world on a daily basis determines the joy or lack of joy we experience. We will always encounter what we earnestly believe about our life.
Do you identify most with your joy – or your pain? The degree to which we embrace light or darkness establishes our interior climate at any given moment. When we’re not feeling joy, it’s because we have allowed negativity to overtake us. Elder F. Enzio Busche speaks wisdom as he tells about our continuum of choice.
“There is a simple lesson we each have the opportunity to learn in life. It is that in each of us is the potential for two opposing situations. A person can
experience feelings of joy that become almost unbearable. Or a person can experience unhappiness to the extent that there seems to be no way out…Some individuals reach such a state of depression – or become so empty and hollow – that they want this life to come to an end. Both extremes are within our reach. And both extremes seem to be based on circumstance. Many who have not come to a state of spiritual awakening, may, in fact, believe that circumstances are the deciding factor in happiness… We alone decide where it is that we stand on the continuum between total frustration and complete fullness of joy. (F. Enzio Busche, Yearning for the Living God, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book), 274-76.)
As we choose to intensify our inner light, – joy will increase, – because the elevating spiritual radiance within us will automatically propel us to a level where the fruits of the spirit reign. (Gal 5:22)
Filling Up With Light
Helaman tells us how his people received a deep and lasting joy. Notice what they focused on:
“Neverthless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy…” (Hel. 3:35) The soul that is “filled” with Christ and His spirit is the most joyful of souls.
For many years of my life I didn’t honestly believe it was possible to have joy every day; SOME days, and some seasons, to be sure, but not EVERY day! I’ve learned that I was dead wrong about that and that joy is there waiting to be claimed by us whenever we are ready to leave our shadowy inner surroundings and advance into more light. We’re designed for joy!
How To CLAIM JOY
1. NOTICE what you are feeling at this moment
Anxiety; gladness; resentment; delight; annoyance; bland-ness; Know that wherever you are in your inner environment, your thoughts took you there. Changing your thoughts and focus can take you to a different place.
2. If you’re already feeling joy:
It means your mind has been in a good place. Continue to focus on positive things. The more light you allow in, the higher level of joy you will experience, and the more ALIVE you will feel.
3. If you’re NOT feeling joy
What is it that brings YOU joy? Puppies? Breathtaking Sunsets? Making music? Exercise? Creating? Scripture? All these enter into the realm of Christ along with anything “lovely or praiseworthy.” LOOK for light, love and beauty, and make them your entire focus as you go throughout your day. When your “eye” is single to God’s sphere, your whole body will be filled with light, and there will be no negativity in you (D & C 88:66).
Don’t consciously allow any dark thought in, but when one does enter, NOTICE it before you get too attached to it, – and let it go. We can’t focus on two things at the same time. Choose the thought that lifts you. Once we witness the harmful thought and see it for what it is, (an attempt to sabotage our joy), it loses its power over us.
Elder Russell M. Nelson has posed a question about focusing on joy:
“How, then, can we claim that joy? We can start by ‘looking unto Jesus the ‘author and finisher of our faith’ ‘in every thought’… As our Savior becomes more and more real to us and as we plead for His joy to be given to us, our joy will increase. Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives.” (Elder Russell M. Nelson; Joy and Spiritual Survival, October General Conference,2016)
After Joy Has Been Claimed It Can Be MEASURED
This self-assessment can actually help to improve the emotional momentum of our week. Find A CALENDAR (Either one you see daily on your wall, or a pocket calendar you take with you). Every day at the end of the day think through the emotions and level of the spirit you have felt that day. Ask yourself, “DID I FEEL JOY TODAY?” Did I feel the fruits of the Spirit? (Love, Joy, Peace etc) If you did, mark a big “ J ” (Joy) in the square of that day on the calendar.
If you had a day where you struggled with dark feelings or sadness, but were able to focus even for a short time on joy and FEEL it, mark a “ J – “ (Joy minus) on the square. If on the other hand, you had a day completely filled with Joy, with no negativity, you can mark a “J+” (Joy plus) on your calendar. It should look something like this:
You can monitor your week and see at a glance, how much joy you allowed in. It can offer motivation to keep your focus on Christ and His realm of joy.
- J- (Joy minus)
For challenging days where you feel low most of the day, but you manage to LIFT yourself by focusing on some facet of joy, even if it is a short period of time.
- J (Joy)
For days PREDOMINATELY JOYFUL, but may have some moments of negative emotion. Overall, because of your focus, it has been a good day.
- J+ (Joy plus)
For days when you FEEL ALIVE WITH JOY THE ENTIRE DAY! No dark moments.
With this awakened watchfulness of your inner self, you can begin to distinguish the spiritual sparkle you are feeling (or lack thereof). If you notice you’re not feeling joy, go outside and take in the beauty of nature; create something lovely, listen to some stunning music or even play with puppies. Do what it takes to recapture your joy, even if you can only maintain it for a few minutes. We can all have joy if we focus on the elements that create it, – independent of our circumstances.
Let’s come “Home” to joy each day by focusing on light, then mark our calendars with J. The universe is a friendly place after all.
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