Choosing Joy (even when it’s difficult)

It’s been awhile since I last posted. The holidays are always busy, and I also went out of town. So there will be some Disney World posts forthcoming. Today’s post is about choosing joy. But it’s really about choosing joy when life is difficult.

I purchased a new Mantraband for 2020. My other Mantraband says “Be the Change.” Mantrabands are nice reminders to wear on your wrist of how you want to live your life. My new Mantraband says “Choose Joy.”

I’m already a positive thinker. But I also struggle with anxiety. “Choose Joy” is a reminder to make choices that bring joy into my life. Multiple people can be presented with the same situation, but have completely different reactions to it.

On New Year’s Eve, we had a short stop at the beach. It wasn’t a big beach trip. We weren’t dressed for the beach. It was a quick stop. My daughter had so much joy in her as she walked to the edge of the ocean. She splashed in the water with abandon. She danced and sang to the ocean. I wished I could have as much joy in that moment. Instead, I concentrated on not getting wet and messy. I did get joy from witnessing her joy, however.

The past few days, I have not been feeling great. I feel anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, and sad. I have been making an active effort to choose joy and am still coming up short. I’ve tried to change my thoughts. I’ve prayed. I’ve listened to inspiring music. And I still feel blah.

I know that one cannot be happy all of the time. Today at work, I flipped through a book that I bought to use in counseling called, “How to be Happy, or at least less Sad.” If you can decrease the sad feelings, then the happy feelings naturally increase. They may not currently be at the level that I would like. Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. I am not currently full of joy. But it is always the goal and baby steps count.

In the interest of taking those baby steps, my plan is to notice the small things that bring me joy, even if only briefly. Once I’ve identified that something brings me joy, I can concentrate on having more of that thing. Right now, I am struggling to change my thoughts. So my only option is to attempt to replace them. If I replace the anxious thoughts with joyful thoughts, I should make a little progress.

I added a layout to my bullet journal to encourage me to write down the little things I notice that bring me joy. Hopefully that and my Mantraband will help me be more cognizant of those things. And hopefully, I come out of this funk soon.

Be the Change

There is question as to whether Gahndi ever said this quote or not.  Some say that he said something similar in meaning, while others maintain he never said it at all.  Regardless, it is a quote that I use to inspire myself.

Two years ago, I bought a Mantraband bracelet with the words “Be the change” inscribed upon it.  I wear it often as a reminder of how I would like to live my life. I often show it to my students in counseling sessions, as a reminder to “be the change.”

If we want the world to be a kinder, more understanding place, we need to be kind and understanding.  If we want the world to be just and fair to all, we must be just and fair.

I am a person who believes in the power of the individual.  Often we look at the world and think “how can I have an effect?  I’m just one person.” But I truly believe that individual actions matter.  Many individual actions add up to monumental change. Our actions and beliefs trickle down to those around us.

I don’t want you to think that this is a skill I have mastered.  I am not always “the change I want to see in the world.” Sometimes, I am too timid to stand up for justice.  Sometimes, I am unkind to myself or others. But I have to remember to be compassionate towards myself. I’m not going to always get it right, but sometimes I will, and that is what matters.

And that is why I wear my bracelet.