Where do we find our personal joy? This question was brought to the forefront of my mind today, and so I’m discussing some weighty matters about it here.
Earlier today I came across a post on Facebook where people were moaning and gnashing their teeth about how they thought 2017 was such a horrible, awful year. I pondered for a moment, and then posted my reply that 2017 was wonderful for me, and I’m looking forward to 2018 being even better! Almost immediately someone I don’t know (a friend of a friend) got snarky and tried to make my reply political. Even though I don’t know this person (and after that I don’t care to know her) I set her straight: 2017 was wonderful for me because my husband completed his radiation and chemotherapy treatments and his cancer went into remission; for the first time in over four years no one in my immediate family died after the preceding years saw me lose both my brothers and two of my sisters-in-law; and my writing drought (brought about by the crap in my personal life) ended and I was able to finish and publish Heart of Gold.
After that I had to feel sorry for that other person. I feel sorry for her because she’s allowing someone else to be in charge of her joy. And you know what? I see that everywhere these days. Too many people expect someone or something other than themselves to bring about joy in their lives.
No wonder people are so miserable.
When we allow other people (or things) to be in charge of our joy, we’re going to be disappointed. We’re in charge of our own joy. It’s our responsibility to guide our lives, and that includes finding our joy. Sure, certain situations may not be to our liking, but to let things beyond our control suck out our joy is our own fault.
My husband’s cancer was far from joyous, for him or for me. But even through all the treatments and the pain and the doctor visits and the surgeries, we still found joy. Every morning that I woke up and he was still here with me was joyous. He was filled with joy because he was alive. We found joy in getting to know the staff at the cancer center where his treatments were administered. There was joy because our children grew closer to each other and to us throughout that ordeal.
Losing both my brothers and becoming the only surviving member of my birth family was far from joyous. But I found joy in knowing they are assuredly in heaven now, free from all pain and suffering, both emotional and physical. I found joy in my memories of them, and reconnecting with my nieces. Not being able to write for years was not joyful at all, but I did enjoy re-reading the books I’d written and published, and I found immense joy in the friendships I’ve made with other authors because of my writing. And the day I opened up the file for Heart of Gold and was actually able to write coherent words in it was a joyous occasion indeed!
True, I had to search for that joy, and some days I had to search really, really hard. And there were days when I let myself be swamped by all the crap going on. But, and I don’t want to sound all holy here or anything, I didn’t blame anyone else for that. If I couldn’t find something for which I was grateful, something good in that day, then that was my fault. It was not the fault of the previous President (who I hated with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, by the way.) No elected official is the author of my happiness. Sure I hated that guy and everything he stood for and did, but he was not in charge of my joy. I love our current President, and I love our booming economy, the record-high stock market, the incredibly low unemployment levels, and the fact that I can now keep more of the money I earn at tax time. But none of that is the source of my own personal joy. It’s just satisfaction in the current situation. This President is not responsible for my joy any more than the previous guy was. That’s not their job, you know. (And for those who aren’t fans of our current President-you’ll survive. The rest of us survived the previous administration. So suck it up and quit pitching fits. You’ll live. Believe me.)
Your joy is yours to have or to throw away. It’s your choice whether or not you’re having a good year. No one, certainly not celebrities or government officials or even your boss, is responsible for how you feel and how you react to a situation. To give someone else, especially someone you don’t even know, that much control over your life and your happiness is just nuts. Like I said, I hated the previous President, but my life was not an eight-year odyssey of soul-sucking unhappiness because of him. I lived my life and found joy in the things that matter. I chose to be happy. I chose to find joy.
So when things don’t go your way and it seems like everything is conspiring against you, remember that you are the author of your own life. Choose to find the joy, because it’s there, and it’s up to you to embrace it.