Joyful living.

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa

Life can be tough. Yet whether you are struggling with issues from  the past, difficulties for today or fears about the future, you can still live joyfully.

When you struggle with adversity it can be tempting to look at others and envy them. Some people can appear to glide through life not only untroubled but totally blessed. In reality that is simply a perception. No one gets through life without trials and everyone has their own battles to fight.

I suffered many years of depression because I allowed the abandonment by my mother and abuse of my father to rob me of my self-worth. And with it my joy. How could I enjoy my life when so much had been stolen from me? How could I find peace when my mind was in such turmoil? How could I be happy when I was in such pain?

The answer was in the realisation that joyful living is a choice. One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in my emotional recovery was that I couldn’t change yesterday, I can’t control what happens today and I won’t be able to prevent what tomorrow may bring.

However I can make the choice to accept my past, find serenity in each day and embrace the future. All of which enable me to live with joy.

“If you are not living in Joy, you are out of integrity with your Soul.” ~ Michael Bernard Beckwith

Joyful living is empowering. It can overcome both doubt and fear, both of which used to dominate how I approached every area of my life; home, work and relationships. Having grown up in an environment where intimidation ruled, I lived in trepidation of saying or doing anything that would annoy my father. With so much that could go wrong that I gave up finding out what I liked or enjoyed in life because it was his needs that mattered, not mine.

Then there was the ‘fact’ that I was never good enough. As far as my father was concerned I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough, clever enough, interesting enough. I had no value as in individual which of course was proved to me by my mother’s absence. In my mind she had left because I wasn’t lovable enough for her stay. Little wonder that I grew up finding it hard to find any pleasure in being me.

To live without joy is to live a life void of preference, purpose and passion. Your existence stifles your spirit and suppresses your soul. Yet it is in your spirit that you form your dreams and with the strength of your soul that you pursue them. It is in your spirit that you find love for others and in your soul that find love for yourself.

“There is no real and true Joy if that Joy is not imbued with love. Love cannot exist without Joy.” ~ Saraydarian

Joy goes hand in hand with gratitude and forgiveness. It also stems from acceptance and peace. Most of all though it’s birthed in love. Love isn’t simply an emotion, it requires action for it to be effective. So too, does joy.

Despite the difficulties you may be facing, you have the choice as to how you respond. Even though your circumstances may be in turmoil, you can be hopeful that no situation lasts forever. And when someone you depended on lets you down, you can feel proud that you have the strength to overcome. You can choose to be think positively and by doing so increase your light in the darkest of times.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ~Thcih Nhat Hanh

When you live joyfully, it’s not just you that benefits. When you live with hope your radiance shines on everyone and everything around you. When you find time to share kindness, your generosity is passed on. When you love unconditionally, your love is returned.

There are no grand gestures required. A gentle touch can reassure in a moment of grief. A genuine smile can break down sorrow. A heart-felt hug can reconcile and restore.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  ~Psalm 37:4

For me, the joy in my life comes from knowing that I may not have what I want, but I do have what I need. Self-worth, sobriety and belonging also contribute towards my happiness. And each day is made complete by the love of family and the companionship of friends.

But my greatest joy comes from the assurance of a faith that heals and renews, forgives and blesses. And from the promise that He will give me the desires of my heart.

Now that  is joyful living.

Huge thanks to Lori Portka                 http://loriportka.com/ https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LoriPortka for permission to use her beautiful artwork.

 

35 thoughts on “Joyful living.

  1. “Having grown up in an environment where intimidation ruled, I lived in trepidation of saying or doing anything that would annoy my father.”
    I can totally relate to you here. I grew up in fear of my dad. He was an alcoholic and verbally abusive. God gave me a song (as part of my healing process I believe) for Him after I became a Christian. I lived in fear of him. Now he’s gone, but soon before he went he gave his life to the Lord and went in peace.
    Blessings Carolyn=)

    • So wonderful to know that you are also on a journey of healing. And I know how much it would have meant to you to know that your Dad gave his life to the Lord. Wishing you lots of love and happiness 🙂

  2. Good day, Carolyn….You’ve spoken most poignantly about joy and the spirit. Proverbs 18:14 says, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but a broken spirit, who can bear it?” It is so important that we keep our spirits bright and joyful.

    I learned a long time ago not to envy others. One never knows what another has had to bear in their real life. They may seem like they are experiencing success, or doing what they love to do, but the behind the scenes aspects of their lives may have come with much heartbreaking burdens.

    I have learned that if I see someone, perhaps experiencing something I would like to experience, I always say, “Good for them. I’m glad they are having that experience, and I know that I can….what ever it may be…”experience perfect health, too, or experience the work of my joy, also, or experience abundance by God’s grace,” etc. Envy is never the key for abundant life, only the joy in our present blessings and the blessings of others.

    Catherine of Sienna said in her Dialogue, that God wants our memories to be filled with the blessings he’s given to us, not the heartache we’ve experienced. And I think that’s the secret of keeping joy in our minds and hearts. I have learned to re-route my thoughts to those blessings whenever necessary.

    Thank you for visiting me.

    Have a joyful day,
    Marianne

  3. Impressive blog. I also had an abusive childhood.you have to find the joy and beauty in life. For me, I am a child of the universe. With ninety seven per cent dysfunction in family we are not alone. Blessings for your caring heart. Hugs, Barbara

  4. Hi Carolyn,

    That was a great post. It holds special learning from the way you have brought in your own life experiences into it. I found the essence of the post in these sentences, and I quote,

    “…..I couldn’t change yesterday, I can’t control what happens today and I won’t be able to prevent what tomorrow may bring.
    However I can make the choice to accept my past, find serenity in each day and embrace the future. …….”

    Indeed it is this awareness that while we cannot change the situation or circumstances, we do retain the power to choose how these occur for us. And our consequent response to the same.

    So what life practices could we adopt to achieve this?

    Shakti

    • The best way I find to achieve this Shakti is to bear in my the serenity prayer. ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ This always helps me when I find myself slipping into negative thoughts about a difficult situation past or present.
      Thank you for your comments Shakti, great to see you here.

  5. To be fair, Carolyn, you came into your “conscious” years around age 5 or 6 already marked by your family dynamics. It’s not as if you had any perspective. As such, your path was almost a given. What was NOT a given was that you’d find a place where you’d draw a line, start to turn your life around and build something beautiful out of the shreds. THAT, my friend, is the miracle. And joy is one of the rewards …

    • Do you know Sharon, I’ve never really thought of my path as ‘given’, but it’s very true. Your comment makes me realise even more of the miracle that is my life today. Thank you so much for your wisdom and insight 🙂

  6. Yay, I come to visit here often and it’s always exciting to see a fresh canvas painted with your words that bring hope, joy, and peace! Joy is a gift that I know I need very much, and that it’s tied to perception… I’m grateful for this reminder because I need it this season especially! Thanks, Carolyn, for exuding joy all over your site – and for the peace and love you share here 🙂

  7. “To live without joy is to live a life void of preference, purpose and passion. Your existence stifles your spirit and suppresses your soul. Yet it is in your spirit that you form your dreams and with the strength of your soul that you pursue them. It is in your spirit that you find love for others and in your soul that find love for yourself.”

    This part really struck me (I mean, almost all of it strikes me, as usual, but this hit home more so). For me, purpose is what drives passion and vice-versa. I felt I was spinning in one spot for my entire life. I didn’t have a sense of purpose or passion for anything other than drinking and even then it wasn’t a passion as it was an existence of misery. My purpose-less existence created more supression and that supression fed into my feeling of uselesness. I feel that being of use and service is one of the most important things we have. If I have no purpose, then what’s the point of this all? But as you mention so wisely, it is in my spirit that my passion is born and my my soul is the engine to drive that. I had to find my spirit, outside of liquid spirits, to understand this. And now I do. I know this because when I get wrapped up in self (not in service to others), I find that spirit fading slightly. It sucks the strength from my soul. And there is no room for love.

    Thank you for this, Carolyn. I really loved this. Thank you for sharing your spirit with us 🙂

    Blessings,
    Paul

    • Every time I read your comments and your blog Paul, I feel that we have travelled along a parallel journey. Firstly in our struggle with addiction and then in the sanity of sobriety. It’s good to be reminded of those times when spirit and soul were drowned in alcohol so that neither could immerge with any authenticity. Our reward is a passion filled spirit and a purpose driven soul, all wrapped up in love.
      Blessings to you!

  8. YOu are right- we can not allow our joy to be taken. Actually, it can not truly be taken. However, we can lose sight of it as we choose to see darkness rather than light. thanks for the reminder!

  9. Thank you for offering such clarity in your distinction between soul and spirit: “It is in your spirit that you find love for others and in your soul that find love for yourself.” I wish I could trust my soul, which is struggling with autoimmunity.

  10. Pingback: Soul joy… | mybeachretreat

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