The Discipline of Joy - Discipleship 168

It looks like Thursdays are my new post days for 2012...so here we go again!

Over the last couple of weeks I've had the privilege of being a part of several incredible conversations. Some of these conversations contained subject material that was incredibly inspiring, while others have been more humbling in nature.

In each of these conversations I'm learning incredible things about joy. Here are the top three takeaways that I've had:

1. Joy is not a feeling, it's a filter. You've probably heard the saying that perception is everything...and that might be true to a point. Regarding the pursuit of joy, I'm learning more about how it's not about a feeling but it is able a filter, perception and discipline. I must intentionally choose to focus on the good or the potential good of any situation or set of circumstances that I'm faced with. In doing so, I become filled with joy, rather than filled with something entirely different.

2. Joy begins with a conscious cognitive decision that leads to confident and determined action. A healthy state of mind means little unless it's put into action or activity....kind of like that calculus class I took way back in high school...not so helpful in pastoral ministry or as a parent!! For a decision to truly have meaning and purpose, action must reinforce the decision being made. With regards to joy, I must not only choose to focus on the positive side of my set of circumstances, I must also be willing to act on this conscious choice.

3. As much as joy is a discipline, joy is also a gift. True joy and the ability to life a joyful life is a gift from God. Some of us are naturally hard-wired to live in joy, while others of us (ahem) struggle to do so. Gifts are freely given, but am I willing to receive what is being offered to me? Something to think about the next time someone would like to bless you with something and you are hesitant about receiving their gesture of love, joy or hope.

What about you, what are you learning about joy?

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