Many of us get into the habit of blaming circumstances for a bad day. I know I have. I've complained about the weather, sickness, pain, and even bad hair days for having a less than stellar day.
So maybe I'm not the poster child for joyful living, but I'm trying to remember it's never about the things; the rain, the paper cut, the bank balance, or even the diagnosis. Our circumstances don't determine our attitude; we do. We can choose suffering or joy. We need to ask ourselves, which do we want?
It's tempting to look at others and envy their circumstances. From the outside looking in, it's easy to overlook the challenges and trials someone is facing now, or overcame before, to become the person they are. Two people may be experiencing the same trial, but the attitude each chooses will determine the quality of their lives.
We all know that friend or family member who seems to face adversity every day, who amazes us with a positive outlook, and even manages to inspire us with the way she lives. It's not that she is more blessed or given more advantages; she has chosen to be joyful in spite of her situation.
Circumstances don't create joy; we do.
I have a friend who creates joy for herself and others. She always offers a smile and a word of encouragement for everyone she meets. Not many know the inner battle she fights every day to live in the moment, and to act bravely. She could choose suffering, broadcasting her troubles to everyone she knows, but she doesn't. Few know of her fears, her weaknesses, her troubles.
As we talked recently, I wondered how she is able to express gratitude for her life, and I think it comes down to this. My friend realizes that while the future is uncertain, right here, right now, she has been given this moment, and she is able to find she still has so many blessings. Her secret is that there is joy to be had living in the now. She would be entitled to be wistful about the past, and the way things used to be, or to be anxious about days to come, not knowing what will happen. She has determined to get the most out of every day while she can.
Whenever I'm having what I perceive to be a bad day, I'm trying to check my attitude, and complain less, and focus on the things that are going right. My friend has always been my example when it comes to finding a reason to be happy, despite adversity, and I am striving to be more like she is.
My take away from observing her is that circumstances don't define us; we get to choose our response. So we don't get to blame anyone or anything else for our suffering, and we don't have to give credit to external events for our happiness.
We create our own joy by living in the moment, and reminding ourselves of our blessings. It may take effort, and might be a challenge, but whatever situation we are in, I hope we can all discover something that brings us joy.