Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” -Henri Nouwen

I recently asked a writer friend if he’d look at my blog and give me some feedback.  One of the things he pointed out was that a lot of my posts recently have dealt with challenges more than Joy.  I’ve spent a couple of days thinking about this one and formulating a response – in post form, of course…

As I mentioned in my first post, “Joy is a State of Mind, a way of life, a lens through which one experiences everything.”  When one is living a life Centered in Joy, transitory experiences will come and go, but the State of Mind can remain intact – if one makes the Choice to live their life in that fashion.

What do I mean by transitory experiences?  Emotions, or feelings, are transitory.  Sure, some emotions hang on longer than others, but can you REALLY stay angry All. The. Time?  There are times when happiness or fear or sadness will supplant or distract from the anger.  Or perhaps you’re an overall pretty happy person – every now and then, something will make you sad, or something will scare you.  While you may always remain a little sad about losing your favorite pet (as a child or as an adult), the strong, raw nature of that initial feeling will naturally fade in time – it’s part of how we’re wired.

Circumstances, or situations, are transitory.  You might be in a situation where you’ve been at the same job for several years, but your circumstances change when you get laid off, or get offered a promotion or a transfer.  You might be in a situation where you’ve been single for a long time, but your circumstances change when you meet that special someone.  You might be in a situation where you’re on vacation, but your circumstances change when a tsunami or earthquake or tornado strikes.

Sensations are transitory.  You may be experiencing hunger or thirst, but then you eat or drink and you’re sated – until you get hungry or thirsty again.  You might stub your toe or break your arm, which causes pain, but that fades as the body heals itself.  You might get bit by a mosquito or stumble into poison ivy, which itches until you treat it and it subsides.

While all of these are capable of disrupting your State of Mind if you’re not conscious or aware or focused, it is still possible to maintain whatever State of Mind you choose.  Is it easy?  No, certainly not all the time.  Is it possible?  Absolutely!  Is it worthwhile?  No question in my mind, it definitely is!

Am I perfect at this?  Certainly not!  I still get angry at my kids, frustrated in traffic, annoyed at myself.  I acknowledge those very human tendencies in myself, and even embrace them.  But when the immediacy of that emotion or sensation has subsided somewhat, I remind myself that it’s just temporary, and remind myself of my commitment to a live Centered In Joy.

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