Even if you don't have your car radio tuned into one of those Lite FM stations that plays nothing but Christmas music during this time of year, you're still likely to hear the carol "Joy to the World" at least a few times during the holiday season. It's definitely a festive song with a happy message. But next time you hear it, I suggest changing the lyrics a little in your head. Instead of "joy to the world," think "joy to yourself."
Now, I realize this might seem like a selfish take on things. But when you find (and declare) joy within yourself, you'll then actually be bringing joy to the world.
I don't have to remind you that there seem to be so many challenges going on right now. Whether getting your news from the Internet, from television or from a newspaper (whatever that is), we are all bombarded with reasons to not find any joy in the world -- much less within ourselves. We then often use these happenings as reasons to live life without any joy. This kind of attitude can adversely affect our lives in so many ways -- whether by having a shorter fuse with people we care about or simply keeping the faith that life is innately good and there are real miracles happening around us (even despite some of the recent disturbing -- and tragic -- headlines). These are reasons why now (today -- this very moment) is an important time to declare ourselves vehicles of joy, and then use that joy to help light up everyone else's lives.
Finding joy within ourselves (and being determined to do so no matter what's going on around us or what's happening in the world) really can help to make the world a better place. We can't necessarily change other people around us or other people we read about. But we can lead by example.
One of my favorite motivational speakers, Byron Katie, often writes and speaks about "saving yourself first." In other words, if you're not okay, how can anyone you care about be made okay by you? She likens this to being on an airplane, when the flight attendants are giving their safety speech. They remind us that should the oxygen masks drop down from above, we should put one on ourselves before helping a child or someone else in need put on theirs. In other words, if we don't get the oxygen into our system, how can we help anyone else if we pass out due to lack of oxygen? Make sense? We really do have to save ourselves (and ensure our own lives are joyful) before we can effect change in anyone else -- much less the world around us.
Declaring joy within ourselves doesn't necessarily mean walking around wearing rose-colored glasses, oblivious to what's going on around us or in the world. But it can mean looking for the good in every situation, counting our blessings and embracing an attitude of gratitude. Only then can we approach life (and any of its challenges) with an open heart. By strengthening our "joy muscle," we can be better in any situation we're facing.
So next time you hear the lyrics to "Joy to the World," please remember that you are the world. You reflect the world. You create your world. And, most importantly, you affect your world.
By finding as much good (and joy) as we can in the everyday, our attitudes will start to shift and we will finally begin to be the change in the world that we all want to see.
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