Life won’t always produce happy moments, but you can decide to be a joyful soul and therefore, live a joyful life. This isn’t easy, but with discipline, you can achieve this lifestyle. Below, are what I believe are the four cardinal points of a joyful life:
- Love God and Everyone. Including your enemies. How else would you stand out among those who love only the people that love them back? What, then, makes you special or different? Hatred is a lot of work. Don’t waste time plotting against someone who is probably unaware of how you feel when you can spend that time planning a healthy future for yourself, family, ministry/career, and even serving others. Secondly, a personal relationship with God allows an outflow of love to others. It’s impossible to truly love others selflessly without, first, receiving it from God because, the human nature, by itself, is incapable of showing true and sacrificial love.
- Forgive Everything. The lesson that, you forgive to set yourself free, isn’t new. Besides, like hatred, unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness are a lot of work, a waste of time, and such heavy burden to carry. Cathy Bryant, in her book, The Fragrance of Crushed Violets, lets us know that what usually needs forgiving isn’t usually forgivable in the first place. If it were, then it wouldn’t beg mercy or forgiveness; one would simply or easily brush off the offense and move on. If this is so, then it means that whoever you need to forgive most likely doesn’t deserve it. But if you will let go of your pained past to embrace a healthy future, then, you must start by forgiving. This is important if you’ll move forward in your relationships. Ask anyone who’s entered a marriage, or any other kind of relationship, with baggage, and they’ll probably tell you it didn’t go so well until they’d let go of their painful past.
- Be Thankful for All Things. This is one attitude that teaches you contentment, even as you aspire for greater and better things in life. It also sets you apart from a life of foolish and vicious ambition. Ambition is good—as long as what you’re ambitious for is not outside the will of God and your ambition doesn’t hurt other people. One way to secure a healthy ambitious attitude is to remain grateful for what you already have, and for the people around you. Also, we shouldn’t only be grateful for all things, we should remain thankful to God in all situations as well. This is a good way to secure your hope and insure your faith. To be ungrateful, is to put yourself in a position to be unhappy. It is only when you start counting your blessings that you realize how privileged you are. And if you’re honest, you also realize that when you look closely enough, you’re not really deserving of every good thing that comes your way, but these blessings are added to you anyway. So, if you’ll be joyful, then you must be thankful!
- Complain of Nothing. I realized something—it’s when I complain about a matter that I become more angry. On the flip side, when I say positive things about a person or situation, I’m less likely to be offended and more prone to forgive. Situations don’t always appear as bad as they seem until I start to “badmouth” them to myself. That taught me to not only see the positive and redeeming qualities in people and situations, but to also speak of them positively in faith. Besides, complaining NEVER solves the problem, but makes you appear immature. Finally, it makes no sense that people/circumstances determine your attitude toward life, and toward people. If you’re someone who can be provoked as easily as you can turn on a switch, then you, my friend, are as unstable as the waves of the sea.
Want to have a joyful life? Then love, forgive, be thankful, and don’t complain!