I decided to post Mr. Barringer’s blog because he tells you how to be more joyful. Happiness 1st Institute teaches you how to accomplish what he suggests. – JJ
How to become a joyful person
We all want to be joyful, but if you look around yourself in church, you’ll see that we are generally not any more joyful than the people outside the church. We have good days and bad days, ups and downs, and our mood tends to be a product of our circumstances.
Deep down, we all want to be more joyful and we all know that’s what we’re supposed to be, so at some point we have to knuckle down and ask the hard question: What is actually going to change in your life in order to make you become this person you want to be?
1. Get in the habit of rejoicing.
“Rejoice in the Lord always,” Paul writes in that well-known verse from Philippians, “and again, I say, rejoice.” A second time, he writes to the church in Thessalonica, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing.” In fact, prayer and rejoicing are the only two things that Paul ever commanded believers to do “always” or “constantly.” Again, he urges the church in Ephesus to keep “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Wouldn’t you say that this is a major theme in Paul’s writing?
Whether you’re joyful or not depends in large part on what you choose to think about. If you choose to think about all the crises in your life, the things that are desperately going wrong and need God’s help, you will be a crisis-driven person, and those people tend not to be very joyful. If you have a more accurate and realistic view of just how many blessings God is showering you with, then even when something does go catastrophically wrong, it still won’t be able to steal your joy because it will be counterbalanced by the hundreds and thousands of blessings that you reaped simply by waking up this morning.
Make a conscious effort to seek out things you can praise God for. Do this for four to six weeks until it becomes a habit. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice.” Do it repeatedly. You may think it feels incredibly strange to spend time listing your blessings out loud or on paper, but it only feels weird because it hasn’t been normalized yet, and the only way to normalize it is to do it repeatedly.
If you’re constantly rejoicing with your words, if you’re the person who always has something good to say, people are drawn to that. We can get negativity by turning on a political talk show; we don’t need or want more of it in our lives. We need positive energy from our friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.
2. Control Your Speech.
Freedom of expression is a cherished American value, written into the very first amendment to our Constitution, and we generally interpret it to mean that we should be able to say whatever we want to at any time.
Hilariously enough, whenever we say something that offends another person, we usually turn around and try to blame it on them: “Oh, she’s way too sensitive,” “He just doesn’t know how to take a joke.” But did you know that the Bible does not teach freedom of expression? On the contrary, Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths – only that which is good for building other people up, as fits the occasion, so that it may give grace to those who hear.”
You’re not free to say whatever you want. You have an obligation before God to only say positive and uplifting things. If negativity wants to come out of your mouth, you have a choice whether to let it come out or not, and Paul says not to let it. It’s really just common sense. When a bad thought enters your head – somebody wrongs you, or a situation goes foul, or something – putting those thoughts into words requires time and mental energy. It causes those thoughts to get stuck in your head for longer than if you simply moved on past them and found something good to say. It’s the same principle behind Paul’s commandment to rejoice. If you spend your words on positive and uplifting things, your mind will be thinking positive thoughts and you’ll be a joyful person. If you spend your words on negative things, your mind will dwell on things that drag you down and you’ll be a negative person, which is why Paul tells us not to let any of our words be unwholesome. He also writes to the Philippians, “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.”
If you have a problem with someone, try simply not talking about it or them. Try simply letting it go and dwelling on positive things instead. Your negative thoughts aren’t hurting them, after all, only yourself. If it’s a situation that does demand a confrontation, you’re still not allowed to say any word that doesn’t build someone up. Don’t confront anyone unless you can do it in a positive and uplifting way. Aren’t you more willing to take correction from someone who loves you when it’s presented in a constructive way?
3. Remember the Big Picture.
As I said earlier, bad things happen to all of us, and the prophet Habakkuk had a front-row seat to one of the worst things any human could have witnessed: God told him that the Chaldeans were about to conquer the Israelites and carry them off to slavery in a foreign land as punishment for Israel’s sin. Yikes. Habakkuk’s answer is disbelief, wondering aloud how a holy God could use such a wicked people as an instrument of his justice, and the ensuing back-and-forth between him and God is some of the most theologically rich material in all of Scripture. At the end of it, though, God’s promise stood: Israel was doomed.
What is Habakkuk’s response to this bad news? A shrill diatribe about how a good God should not allow bad things to happen? A pity party? A plea for God to reconsider? None of the above, actually; instead he utters this: “Even if the fig tree goes barren and there is no fruit on the vines, even though the olive trees stop giving olives and the fields yield no food, even though the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
I don’t care what you’ve been through or how well you handled it, the maturity of Habakkuk’s response makes every last one of us look like whiny babies in comparison. And the answer is instructive. He says that joy is a choice (“I will”), a choice which must supercede your circumstances.
The reason is simple: The Lord, in whom you are taking your joy, is larger than your circumstances, so your joy must always be greater than your sorrow. If your sorrow is greater, it means you’re viewing things out of balance, that your perception of reality is skewed. This is the realization that Habakkuk finally came to: the greatest reality is God and his love, and for us as Christians, the promise of an eternity with him as well. That is the big picture, the biggest picture of all, and the thought that must overwhelm your mind when bad things happen or when life is simply mediocre.
It is for this reason that the intellectually honest atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, or pantheist has no business being joyful: They have no reality which is larger than their current circumstances to which they can appeal when things in their life go sour. Only a deity who is sovereign over everything can offer the comfort and promise of verses like Romans 8:28.
The flip side would be that, since you do have such a deity, you have no business being joyless. You must choose to take joy in the Lord even when you don’t feel like it; you must have the intellectual and emotional maturity to make a choice for joy when it would be easier to sulk. And God, since he is interested in making us become fully mature children of his, will tend to keep throwing trials at us until we’ve mastered this particular skill.
The big picture for you to keep in mind is this: Whatever you are currently facing in life, it is probably not enough to keep you from living a happy and productive life (unless you choose to let it), and it is absolutely not enough to keep you from being loved by God and looking forward to an eternity with him.
Last year, my wife and I met a man who is paralyzed in all four limbs. That is one of the worst things that can happen to a person, isn’t it? But rather than sit around feeling sorry for himself, he taught himself how to paint with his mouth, and now he sells his artwork and spreads the story of God’s love through his unique platform. He chose joy.
There is basically nothing in your life that could ever keep you from being happy and productive, not even four-limb paralysis. Additionally, you have the promise of eternity waiting for you. 1 Corinthians 15 explains the doctrine of the resurrection at length and how it’s a crucial and exciting Christian doctrine, and the chapter ends with a verse saying that Paul wrote all these things to keep us encouraged and steadfast no matter what happens in our lives. Our promise of eternal reward is supposed to motivate us, supposed to help us choose joy. If it doesn’t, the fault is ours, because at the end of the day, you’re the only one who can choose joy for yourself.
There are many, many more ways that we could choose joy, and I hope to hear about them from readers who are making a habit and a lifestyle out of being joyful. I also hope that you’ll let God’s word change your attitude so you can begin to become the person of joy that you want to be and that God wants you to be.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Barringer is a writer, musician and teacher serving at The Church of Life (.com) in Orlando, FL. More of his work can be found at facebook.com/jmbarringer and ExtantMagazine.com.This work may be reprinted for any purpose so long as this bio and statement of copyright are included.