When my kids are grumbling about a frustrating situation, I tell them to find the joy in it.
I encourage them to find joy and focus on what is good or hopeful or satisfying in whatever it is that is bothering them.
Joy can be found in everything.
It’s a choice.
It’s a mindset.
It’s a skill we learn and develop.
Whether we do it consciously or not, each of us decides how we are going to interpret every situation we are in. We will find what we are looking for, so we should be purposeful and careful in how we view things.
When we are unhappy, we sometimes think it is impossible to feel differently than we do. We forget that we can decide, by an act of will, how we feel. We tend to think of happiness as something passive, something that happens to us and over which we have no control.
But that’s not true. We can take control and decide to be happy – to be joyful. We can live the lives we want to live. We can change the way we look at things.
“Joy does not simply happen to us.
We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
– Henri J. M. Nouwen
When I started this journey, my goal was to make my life better either by changing my job or changing how I felt about my job. I would either switch to another job and have the joy from doing different work or I would learn to find the joy in my current work and be satisfied and content with that.
I decided to write about joy and how to find it in everything. I knew I needed to define joy and that is what this post is about. In the next two posts, I will talk about why we need joy and then how to find it.
But first, I need to define joy because I think it’s pretty important to know what it is that I’m looking for.
What is joy?
Does it mean the same thing to you as it does to me? And now that I’m thinking about it, what exactly does it mean to me? I thought I knew what it meant until I tried to write it down and my thoughts were all muddied up. I do know that joy is something that I want in my life and I want other people to have it, too, but I needed to be more clear about how I was defining joy, so I looked it up.
Merriam-Webster defines joy as…
1a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delightb : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3: a source or cause of delight
Rick Warren says
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
John Piper states that
“Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”
Theopedia says that joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness. Joy isn’t just a smile or a laugh. Joy is something that is deep within and doesn’t leave quickly.
The King James Bible Page defines joy as
1. The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune,the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits.
Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.
And one last definition which comes from the blog patheos —
Joy isn’t like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is not happiness.
Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful. It could be described as exhilaration, delight, sheer gladness, and can result from a great success or a very beautiful or wonderful experience like a wedding or graduation but the definition of joy that the world holds is not nearly as amazing as biblical joy but joy is also gift.
Actually, the whole article on joy from patheos was phenomenal. I would go over there and read the article by Jack Wellman a few times.
I think defining joy is complicated and personal.
Some of these definitions are difficult to read. I had to go over the King James Bible page definition a couple of times and I still skimmed bits of it. So, I read it again and really thought about it. And I went over the other ones again and thought about them, too.
In the end, what do all of these definitions and expectations boil down to? For me, personally, it is…
- something that just sits right with me, a deep satisfaction
- a good feeling
- a lifestyle
- an exercise in thinking
- something to strive for
My definition –
Joy is a conscious decision to actively seek out and focus on the positive aspects of every situation while resting in the knowledge that I am a beloved child of God who has promised me that He will never leave me nor forsake me.
I hope this is as helpful to you as it has been to me. Please check out my next post which will cover why we need joy.
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