By Maria Taylor
One morning not long ago, I was feeling extremely sad and weary over some things in my personal life I’d been growing through. For comfort, I reminded myself of one of my favorite scriptures: “Be joyful always, pray continuously, and give thanks in all circumstances.”
“I’m joyful,” I thought, even as tears streamed down my face. “I AM joyful,” I said out loud. “Even if I don’t really feel it.”
Immediately, I felt a sense of joy and peace sweep over me. My whole attitude and demeanor changed. I couldn’t help but smile at the quick transformation of my mood. The sadness and weariness were still there, of course, but in that moment, I was choosing to focus on joy instead.
Now, was I jumping up and down turning cartwheels and doing somersaults? Naaahh… But quantum physics teaches us that we first must emit the frequency we want to tune into in order to receive it. And by claiming joy even before it was fully actualized inside me, an inexpressible peace was deposited so deeply into my spirit that the debilitating effects of my sadness no longer had a hold on me. It felt empowering to know that should I unconsciously revert back to sadness, a conscious choice for joy could whisk me back into a more manageable state of mind.
Remember those old-fashioned analog radios that had static and knobs for changing stations? I like to think of joy as a channel we can choose, just as you tune into a different radio station if you don’t like the song that’s playing. Being a positive, upbeat person, I’m usually naturally tuned to the frequency of joy. But if I’m not careful, the cares of life and the world can, little by little, pull me from my joyful channel and into static. But with a little conscious awareness, I inch my way back through the noise and into joy. Besides, if what we focus on expands, why not choose joy?
In The Secret Gratitude Book, Rhonda Byrne admonishes us to “feel feelings of gratitude in advance for the great day ahead, as though it is done.” She even suggests that as we “walk from one place to another, think and feel the words ‘thank you’ in your heart with every step.” After all, she says, gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions, and it can actually minimize negativity in your life.
Choosing joy opens the door to gratitude, because I truly believe we have so much to be thankful for. As a way of building that awareness, Byrne suggests we make lists of what we’re grateful for. The more I make my lists, the more it amazes me that I never seem to run out of things to be thankful for. And it uplifts my spirit to realize that, in itself, is something to be grateful for!
Choosing joy can be a fun and creative practice. Before COVID, I drove 40 miles one-way to work. Depending on how many car accidents there were, it could take up to 2.5 hours (!). It would’ve been extremely easy to complain. But instead, I focused on my gratitude practice. I’d fill the time giving thanks for my awesome family and anything else I could find to be grateful for. Is it a coincidence that I always arrived to work feeling energized and upbeat? I think not.
On the flip side, I wonder, what if I had chosen rage during those occasions? What if I called the drivers names or screamed through my window at them? What would I have gained, besides high blood pressure and a stressful ride? How much would it really have cost me to not choose joy?
Fascinatingly, choosing joy seems to put us in a frequency where magic and synchronicities are a natural occurrence. Even while composing this blog, magic showed up. Some time ago, as I was considering what to focus on, I decided that with November being National Gratitude Month, my working title would be, “Season of Thankfulness,” or “Attitude of Gratitude.” But on one particularly joy-focused morning, I reconsidered. What if instead, I titled my post, “Choose Joy”? Hours later, I met a fellow attendee at the virtual ICF (International Coach Federation) Advance Coaching Conference who had a sign behind her that read, “Choose Joy.” Then, the next morning when I picked up a book for inspiration during my daily devotion, I just happened to turn to a page titled, “My Joy… Your Joy.” Ahh, so it seems that when we choose joy, joy chooses us!
Especially during these challenging times, when it feels like we are collectively living in the Twilight Zone, optimism is a form of resistance. And since it is a proven medical fact that it contributes to our well-being and equates to positive health benefits, choosing joy is a virtuous cycle we might all endeavor to perpetuate.