I have often sat by the window of life and just simply wondered. What is life all about? How can I have a good life? What even is a good life?
In the midst of these flurry of questions, I begin the process of worrying. What if I never find out the answers to my questions? What if I never live a good life? What if…?
Yes, that’s me. And, that’s probably you too. Most of us worry about something and want to find a way to be living a happy life. Even if you consider yourself a “chill” person, when something is important to you, there still is a pressure that exists that makes you question just how “chill” life can be.
So, how do we combat worry? Previously, I talked about the root of worry and identity. However, there is also a sort of “replacement behavior” for worry. That is JOY!
Yes, I did think of joy because of Christmas but it is hard not to. Sure, there is a lot of stress for students with finals and for workers with end-of-the-year activities. However, at the same time, there is Christmas break when we spend time with family and relax at home. Maybe you already put up some decorations in your home or started baking. Maybe you even already made a list of things to do while on break. Maybe you have begun counting the minutes till break begins. Wherever you are, all of us look forward to the joy that can be found in some way during this time of year.
However, in the midst of that joy, there is sadness. Maybe for a family member who you cannot see anymore. Maybe for not being able to be with the people you love or do the things you love. Maybe the challenges of life are just too much.
So, in the midst of this sadness, how does joy replace worry? The answer is that joy is a mindset. It is a way of thinking. So, here are three ways that joy replaces worry:
1. Worry says, “think about the bad and the possibility for it” ... Joy says, “think about the beauty in your life and the possibility for more”
This basically shows us that Worry is like pessimism, the glass is always half empty. On the other hand, Joy always finds a half-full glass with optimism. However, this optimism is not based on unrealistic ideals but on the truth.
Let’s face it. When we worry, it’s almost never about reality. Rather, it is about the unrealistic expectations we have for a terrible end in our lives. This is because just purely looking with a pessimistic view only leads to a life in an imaginary world where the worst ALWAYS happens.
However, Joy is not like this. Joy is not based on disillusions (that would be happiness). Joy is based on beauty. This beauty can be found anywhere and everywhere. Even in the worst surroundings. However, we never see this beauty because we are too busy in our imaginary worlds. So, joy opens our eyes and allows for an optimistic view that impacts the way we see the world.
2. Worry makes you discouraged...Joy gets you encouraged
I have two friends who I study together with for tests. One of them is always stressed out about college, tests, and grades. She’s always frustrated and doesn’t expect things to go well. My other friend is always chill even if professors scream at her or she didn’t do well on a test. Even if something isn’t the best and she is disappointed, she doesn’t let that get her down. One of them is more fun to hang out and one...not so much. I’ll let you decide who I’m talking about.
The reason is obvious. One of them is always discouraged while the other one stays encouraged. Who would rather be? Would you like to be discouraged always? Or would you like to stay joyful?
3. Worry results in us missing out...Joy results in us being able to live
Lastly, we can never fully live if we keep worrying. Life is limited if we live with a sad outlook. Worry is like taking a pair of handcuffs and putting them on ourselves. Why would we want to do that?
For all of us who are trying to live life, we need to stop worrying. Life isn’t about partying or binge-watching, it is about enjoying. Enjoying God and the beauty He has made in our world.
As I write these words, I am sitting across from my fireplace which has the word “joy” written on top of it. It makes me wonder. Am I really experiencing joy in my life today? Are you? Do we cherish the joy that can be found in remembering the beauty of a baby? He’s alive and can gift us with that joy today.