Now after reading that last sentence you are probably wondering how there is an acronym in a three letter word. Well many years ago I saw the acronym written on a post it note and hung up in a bathroom and it has been something that has stuck with me since then. And the acronym for joy is: Jesus, Others, Yourself...and it is something that we should try to follow out. While I might not be doing a good job of it, I have tried to follow it every day.
While I might not be an expert on this, especially since I have a hard time doing this myself, I know that starting your day with a few minutes of quiet and pray gets you going in the right direction. The same goes for stopping for a moment or two in the afternoon and saying a quick prayer then is good to do as well. Taking time out of my day is something that I struggle with, thought I want to start doing it.
Even though I might not start my day out with saying a few written prayers I do start my day by going to daily and Sunday mass with my family. As a family we also go to Adoration once a week on Monday evenings and we say the Rosary every night as a family as well. For the past three years I have been apart of a young adult group and we meet weekly on Thursday for two hours and we have someone come and give a talk and then we have an hour of Adoration, and when I can I do that as well.
O, the second letter in joy. The word that goes with it is others, which is the second step in helping us to find joy. When trying to help others out, whether it is relatives, friends, or someone that you meet on the street, we should start by having a loving and kind attitude. Without one it won't feel the same as when we are joyful in what we are doing. Often it can seem like there is nothing that we can help others with, though there actually is. While I could come up with a long list of ways to help others I am just going to share a short list to get you started with ideas of how to those around and that you meet in life. This list is called the Corporal Works of Mercy, and it is a short list because there are only seven things on it.
1. Feed the Hungry
2. Give Drink to the Thirsty
3. Clothe the Naked
4. Shelter the Homeless
5. Comfort the Imprisoned
6. Forgive Offenses
7. Pray for the Living and the Dead
While it may seem like a daunting list of ways to help others it won't feel like it once you start doing them. Do you have to do all of them all of the time? No, you don't have to do them every single day, but you can still try too. Even if you just pick one or two things to do a day or one each day of the week, if possible, though not required, go for it. You can even start doing the first two in your own home by offering to help a sibling or parent prepare a meal for the day or offering to get someone a drink. Praying for the living and the dead is an easy one to do because you can do it every day no matter where you are or what you are doing at the time.
One thing that is sometimes forgotten in the busyness of life is to stop focusing so much on yourself. In order to find joy in our lives we need to remember the last step and that is yourself. This is something that I heard once somewhere and it will be something that I will remember for a while but: in order for us to decrease, he (Jesus) must increase. While it might not be the right phrasing it is still important to remember.
In order to start finding joy in our lives we need to start going to Jesus with our troubles instead of worrying about them on our own. We also need to start focusing on Jesus and others first and ourselves last. By doing this greater joy will be found. Will it be hard to do at times, of course it will. But once we start doing it, it will be harder to stop.
"Unhappy is the one who is unaware of so great a gift." ~ St. Cajetan.
The quote from St. Cajetan is something that I read recently, and there is more to it, but I thought this part kind of fit in with what I am trying to say. While it might not have originally been about joy I think that the quote works with what joy is and how it is a great gift. Because without joy, life seems rather grey and dismal and not very fun. But when we have large amounts of joy we can pass it on to others and make lives better where ever we go, even if we might not feel joyful at times. Even if you don't to do it at first, go and start spreading some joy around; whether it is in your life or in someone else's life. As you go and do that remember the three stops that I mentioned and go out and be like the happy snowman in the picture.