“This difficulty in attaining joy seems to us particularly acute today. This is the reason for our message. Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. For joy comes from another source. It is spiritual.” Pope Paul VI, Gaudete in Domino
Every human being is looking for happiness. We find lots of ways to increase our happiness: good food, entertainment, nice stuff, time spent with friends. But there are lots of things that steal our happiness: sickness, being overweight, clutter, friendship problems, etc. Easy come, easy go. There is a deeper kind of happiness, one that is much harder to find and much harder to lose. We call this kind of happiness “Joy”. It is a spiritual happiness, a deep sense of gratitude for our existence as human beings, no matter what the condition of that existence might be. It comes from knowing we are loved and from loving in return. These kinds of deeper realities lead to a deeper happiness.
How do we achieve the lasting kind of happiness called “joy”? We have to choose to stop looking at the lack in our lives, which leads to unhappiness, and instead look at the abundance in our lives and be grateful. Joy comes from seeing the world differently. My possessions are really gifts from God, and giving them away has a tendency to increase my happiness. My miseries are opportunities to grow in a relationship with God. Suffering can heal others and even myself. My life is in God’s hands and I am loved infinitely. He loves me personally and intimately. Anything ‘bad’ that happens, God would only allow if I could use it for God. Rather than struggling against forces beyond my control, I can live in the confidence of His love.
Here are some suggestions for finding more joy:
- Every day before bed, name one thing you are thankful for.
- Begin to rely more deeply on your relationship with God, and use this relationship as the source of your deepest identity.
- Clean out the “closets” of the heart where we store the hurts, griefs, and anguish that have happened to us. Let God’s light into those moments. If you cannot see God there yet, continue to pray and invite him, until His light conquers the darkness.
- Forgive, everyone and always, and as soon as you can. Forgiveness frees the soul.
We cannot create joy. But if we practice daily gratitude, we will discover joy.