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.

 

Treasures of your heart.

1254860_heart_flowersWhat are the treasures of your heart? Where can they be found?

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

Wealth, possessions, success are all things that we can desire but they don’t guarantee peace of mind or happiness. Of course they help to make our daily existence enjoyable and can provide purpose and incentive, but it’s possible to be affluent and acclaimed yet still not be satisfied with life. I believe that’s because happiness has very little to do with what we have on the outside and everything to do with who we are on the inside.

My childhood experiences of abandonment and abuse had been the cause of long-term depression and alcoholism. I spent years believing that a successful career, being financially secure and having expensive possessions could fill the void in my life. But nothing was ever going to replace the love I should have had as a child.

When I hit rock-bottom and lost everything I felt like my life had ended and should be ended. My heart was like stone and there were no treasures to be found  in my existence.

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” Lao Tzu

As I have journeyed in recovery, I have learnt to replace the ‘hurt healers’ of alcohol and depression with the ‘hurt healers’ of life – simplicity, patience, compassion, trust, acceptance, forgiveness, hope. These riches I have found through a faith that teaches love. A love that provides an abundance of comfort, healing and power.

I used the experiences of my past as the foundation for my future. Through adversity and hard times I can now appreciate the prosperity and good times. Through abandonment and loss I can cherish and nurture my family and friends. And it is by coming through such depths of darkness yesterday that the light shines so brightly today.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Anyone who has been through a personal tragedy or is going through a time of adversity knows that when difficulties arise priorities change. The things you may have held in high esteem before, matter less. The day-to-day issues you have stressed over, become insignificant. Life takes on a new meaning.

Emotional healing demands that you turn away from what you don’t have to focus on what you do have. Losing a loved one means letting go of what you had in the physical, but holding tight to the memories that will last you a lifetime. Suffering with an illness means accepting the disease and looking after the rest of your health. Difficulties in a relationship means focusing on the good aspects whilst managing the bad.

Whatever you are dealing with, it can be tough. Yet you will be able to manage your situation so much easier if you have a strong heart. And your heart will be as strong as the treasures it holds within.

1256162_heartsIf your heart is weak, you will lack the strength you need to rebuild your mind, body and soul. If your heart is empty, you will lack the passion you need to pursue your dreams. If your heart is broken you will find it difficult to love and be loved. But a strong, complete and treasure filled heart will help you find peace, hope and happiness.

So how is your heart today?