Joyfulness is defined as sustaining a positive attitude, even when dealing with a negative situation or a disagreeable environment. Joyfulness is more than merely being happy. Joyfulness is the ability to understand that sometimes things do not go our way and, instead of wallowing in that knowledge, looking forward to the bright spot in the future and enjoying the simple wonders of life.
No one is happy all the time. Bad things happen in real life. People are hurt, relationships dissolve, and sometimes life doesn’t quite turn out the way we desire. However, happiness and joyfulness are two very different emotions. Happiness is directly affected by the situation. Joyfulness is a character trait and a chosen attitude. When a joyful person experiences difficulty, the sadness is real, but it does not dim the hope that brightens the heart. You cannot make yourself be happy when bad things happen, but you can chose to look for the light at the end of the darkness and appreciate the little points of radiance in an unpleasant situation.
While writing this article, I unwillingly began to think about some of the less pleasant events that have happened in my life. There is one situation in particular that stood out in my memory. A few years ago, I was playing competitive soccer, and I tore my ACL. The ACL is a major ligament in the knee, and I had to have surgery to have it reconstructed. At the time, I remember thinking things like “How could this happen?” and “Will I ever be able to play soccer again?” I was devastated. However, six month later, things were looking up. I was back playing soccer, had made the Owasso High School team, and, aside from another minor knee surgery, had regained full use of my knee. Then, by a fluke, I tore that same ACL again. It was crushing.
I will never remember those months as a happy time. They hold some truly sad memories. Still, as I look back, I realized that there were some things I could have done to improve my joyfulness, if not my happiness. I could have looked forward to the future, to today, when I am perfectly fine. I could have enjoyed more the time spent with my friends when they came over to keep me company during physical therapy. I could have been more thankful that I was fit to play by the time the first game of my high school career rolled around. Instead of feeling self-pity, I could have worked harder to be positive. I could have made the choice to be more joyful.
Making the choice to be joyful is hard, but it is worth the difficulty. Joyfulness comes from finding a purpose and being able to discover hope and direction when you are sad and dejected. Whether you find this hope and direction in faith, family, friends, or work, it is important to look at the bigger picture. In difficult circumstances, we can not ignore the real problems facing us. However, we don’t have to let circumstances rob us of our hope. Self-pity is easy and safe, but it can hurt you and the people closest to you. Instead, find purpose. Reality dictates that you will not always be happy, but if you maintain optimism and commit yourself to finding the silver lining in every storm cloud you encounter, you can respond to abysmal situations with a good attitude and make the best of each situation. Joyfulness is not about the absence of difficulty. It is about the presence of purpose. Joyfulness is the quality of a life in proper focus.
You cannot always have happiness, but, with a little effort and enduring purpose, you can make the choice to embrace and spread joyfulness each and every day.