Category Archives: Joy

Ten Seconds to Happiness

This isn’t just a hook or a catchy title to get you to read it, it’s the truth about why we live in the lowlands of negativity. I may have written about it before but it bears repeating. Joy is a choice, largely. Fasting for joy has brought this front and center. I call it the 10-second rule. You can use it to change your life.

We have so much good in our lives that mostly we let it go by without notice. A beautiful sunset usually gets a notice but sometimes not even ten seconds. A beautiful flower, a gentle breeze, the sent of orange blossoms or honeysuckle might get two seconds. The way the sun feels on your face or back, or the way it looks coming through leaves or lighting up green hills–all or any gets a nod, maybe two, even three seconds, but not much more. Yet it takes 10-30 seconds to anchor something for keeping in our unconscious mind. (Yes, that’s the same as the subconscious.)

Now think about something bad that happens. A stranger takes out their stress by snapping at you. Your spouse lets his/her irritation show. Does it get ten seconds? Almost always. In fact, it is hard to dismiss any negative thought or experience in under ten seconds. We usually give it much more than that. So we end up with all this stored negativity in our unconscious mind. And when we aren’t focused on something, that’s what floats up.

It is who we become.

It takes thought and awareness and choice to change it. But what a simple, lovely exercise–choosing to enjoy  the good for 10 seconds or more. Holding on to it, savoring it for at least 30 seconds. Go ahead, try it. See if it’s as easy as it sounds.

To be continued…

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Filed under Joy, Living well, Love ed, Mental Health, Uncategorized, What is God like?

What do You Choose?

Today is my grandson’s 10th birthday! Do you  remember when you were ten?

What did you want then?

What do you want now?

Maturity is summed up as learning to think differently in the letter of mental health (Philippians–which is also the book of joy!)

When you are ten you think as a child. Though I would imagine that the last three years have not been normal child thinking for my birthday boy–lots of adjustment–going through separation, divorce, and a new step-dad (whom he adores). Those would be seismic changes in a ten-year-old life.

But you might find it interesting that they (all three boys) prayed that he (specifically) would come for at least 6 months before he did. And then it all happened very fast (they had known each other for years) and the boys were all delighted and couldn’t wait to live with him!

That is not the way it usually happens I can tell you!

But they had always been coached that God would take care of them and they were going to be ok. And when they wondered why “their friend” didn’t come around anymore they were told to pray for him, and so they did–every night.

They weren’t at all upset when they came home from a vacation with Daddy and Grandpa and Grandma, and a surprise! Mommy was married and they were moved into their new dad’s house!

I know because they face-timed me and showed me their new rooms, singing, “We live here, we live here!” I think even their dad was relieved.

What a great illustration for learning to think differently! Situations that would normally be horrible were made tolerable, even hopeful, because God was in them working all things together for good.

Isn’t that confidence, that joy, that hope, what you want to live in?

Of course it helps if you have a parent that tells you more than once a week that everything is going to be ok, especially when you are two, five, and seven.

But you do, really, and it doesn’t matter if you are 22, or 45, or 67. He still wants to be your Daddy and tell you that everything is going to be ok, that He is working it all together for your good.

I know, that’s in Romans, not Philippians, but it is what Philippians is all about: You can choose to rejoice, and the more you rejoice the better you will feel because your confidence will grow and you will feel loved and cared for.

But what about when you don’t feel loved and cared for? Then you choose. Because choosing is an act of your will based on what you want, not what you feel. Remember, feelings follow thought and action.

If you want to feel better, think better. Make some good choices, some healthy choices, follow through and you will feel better. It’s a law of the mind.

Hey, this is a great place to make a plug for my new book–the real reason I’m late writing this week–it’s coming out any day now! Love Losing is how to have a healthy mind and body because you can choose to think differently.

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Joy, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Catch Joy

I know you’ve been sick at one time or other. We say you “caught” something. You were exposed by being around someone who has it. If you can catch something bad like a virus, can you catch something good, I wonder?

If joy comes from two main sources: the way you think and God’s presence, we might be able to make a case for it.

God’s graciousness wraps around your heart until joy is the natural result. But it takes time. It doesn’t happen reading a quick verse or two and running out the door. He’s been teaching me to just “be” with Him. Just sit in His presence and talk with Him like you would any friend. And realize that you wouldn’t talk all the time with any friend.

My husband and I watched a great movie last night “Another Perfect Stranger”–a very simple movie, but great because of the “presence” of the stranger–his sense of self–his ability to just be with her. The first time I saw it the strength of his presence stayed with me the whole next day. So I got it from Netflix so my husband could see it. Besides I wanted to see it again.

Do you spend enough time in God’s presence to feel His joy? Are you open to Him? Amazed and overwhelmed by the way He loves you?

Secondly, are you aware of the need to control your thought-life so joy follows? It’s a matter of being aware and choosing.

Your conscious mind can only focus on one thing at a time. Oh I know you have many things in your mind at once–I counted five I was thinking when I ran into the back of someone else years ago. Notice I said you can only “focus” on one thing at a time. Your feelings tell how you are focusing. What you are thinking about.

Are you in charge? or are your thoughts? What you allow in, the quality of its “presence”, what you entertain will determine how you feel.

You can even be like “Janay” Rice and convince yourself that being beat unconcious is a sign of love! That has obviously been her experience, her thinking, until she believes it. It is evidently working for her. But I can tell you as a veteran marriage therapist, that is NOT love, I don’t care what you believe. And she doesn’t look joyful. She looks beaten down–selfless. Battered-woman-syndrome selfless.

Good selflessness is when you have enough self to forget about yourself and just be. You have to have a sense of self that will not let you be beat down and call it love. Love builds up. Love should look joyful. Being loved is joyful–even when it’s hard.

Gratitude in hard times is called the sacrifice of praise. You can praise because you are loved by a God who is good, no matter what is going on in your life.

But that leads you to make good choices–good thinking always does–even when they are hard choices.

Got hard times? Start talking through them and thinking through them with the God who loves you wildly–crazily even. He will help you see new perspectives that lead to new choices. He will even give strength to make them.

Good choices make a good life–one that catches joy.

 

 

 

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Filed under A God perspective, battered women syndrome, Becoming real, Joy, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Marriage, Respect and disrespect, Uncategorized

Brain Robbers

I’m restless this afternoon–probably dehydrated, I reflect–could the news from my friend put me in this funk? Don’t I believe God is good? I say it enough…so I should just start thanking Him that He has this too. And I’m sure He does. So I drink two glasses of water and began to write here. That’s one of my best processing strategies.

Did you know stress doesn’t kill us? There is now a great body of research to show it (Cohen, 2006). It is the state your body is in when the stress hits. Are you healthy? What do you do with the fear that presents itself with bad news? What are your feedback systems? What are your patterns? How do you cope?

We are emotional creatures. There is no way around it. We’re built to feel. We have to have outlets for emotions and pain. Fear is real when you hear a good friend has just been exposed to Ebola. No the fear isn’t for me–he’s in another country. The fear is for him and his family. It’s worse than hearing someone here has cancer–and that is bad enough.

And no, I’m not afraid of death for people who know God, their pain is over. I feel for the people who are left. The ones who suffer. I’m not afraid his wife and three children will get the disease–they are here. But how awful it would be to go on without him–he’s so full of life and fun. Humor is his second nature, as is adventure, and faith.

Sooner or later everyone comes around to the question. Why do good people suffer? Or Why does God allow suffering? Does He cause it? Those two have made many atheists.

I’m clear on both. Why is there suffering? Freedom. And no, He doesn’t cause suffering. He has no evil. So what’s my problem?

Part of it is the pathways I have. Fear used to be second nature to me. That network–mostly dormant is still there–ready to be activated at any time. Another part is that I know God sees what we don’t, and sometimes He sees that it is better not to intervene. I admit that one still gets me nervous from time to time. Faithful suffering speaks.

So what is the real problem? Do I know Him well enough to ask Him and listen for His voice? Do I take my shocks and fears to Him? Can I trust that He really knows best if He doesn’t do what I think He should? I am shocked to realize that I haven’t talked to Him about this yet!

Why not? I got caught in feeling–in the awfulness and emotion of what happened. That is purely human. But I could have turned to him immediately instead of wallowing in feelings for two hours. Now that is crazy! 

One of my friends even said the right words, but they went by with my agreement but not my action–not connecting with Him about this.

I even talked to Him about something else! Wow! I’m amazed.

Fear does NOT come from God. But neither will He jerk it away from me. I have to want to give it up. Processing helps. Can I trust Him? His goodness? Really?

Yes! Will I? That is my choice.

 

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Filed under A God perspective, Grief, Joy, Love ed, Mental Health, suffering, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Finding Gain through Your Pain

Yesterday I looked in the mirror and saw someone I hadn’t seen in over 25 years. Evidently physical headache pain and emotional pain look the same in the eyes.

I remembered how I used to catch glimpses of my face in unexpected mirrors and be horrified at the anger or fear I saw. I’d think is this what my daughter sees?

Oh God, no! This isn’t what I want her to see as mom, this can’t be comforting!

So when God opened a door for therapy, I jumped at the chance: One of the best decisions of my life. I knew I was uncomfortable and dysfunctional, but had no idea why.

That was 29 years ago. Uncovering the pain was hard work, I’d grown up very good at avoiding it. But it was so much better and easier than carrying it.

I’ve been grateful to catch glimpses of myself in unexpected mirrors the past few years and see a peaceful reflection. I was just as surprised. What a difference.

Don’t let fear block your joy. Most of us carry fear and anger without knowing it, like I did. If you have a chance to sort things out in your head, do it. If you have insurance that covers therapy, get it.

In scripture God asks, “Why will you suffer? Why will you die?” He’s asking because He’s offering life and joy.

We can choose suffering. He will let us. But it’s as if He says to each of us, “I know you need to learn, but do you really need to learn everything the hard way? I’m willing to guide you, just come to Me and ask. You’ll still have hard times. You’ll still have to make choices. But it could be so much easier than what you’re doing.”

Make some good choices today. One of them could be to trust God. He is safe to trust.

As I’ve been saying lately, trade in your pain for joy. Learning how to hang out with God and get His validation is a great place to start. “In His presence is joy…”

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Joy, Living well, Love ed, Mental Health, suffering, What is God like?

Joy Filters

Your feelings of joy–or lack of them–do not reveal the quality of your life. They reveal the quality of your thinking.

I know this to be true. Yesterday I experienced it again.

I woke up crabby, and it continued until mid-morning when suddenly I said to God, “Why am I so crabby? I have no reason to be.” Instantly the above thought came to mind, and I realized that I had been thinking very negative thoughts.

Why?  I don’t know.

I may have awakened with a headache again. It’s been happening with more regularity than not lately. Have been wondering if I’m clenching my teeth in my sleep from stress (although I’m not aware of any), or if I have a sinus infection with no symptoms but a headache.

Maybe it got to me and I started looking through a negative filter.

Normally, I’ve been going about my life with so much gratitude. I have a fabulous life. I love everything about it. With God’s help I built it.

Of course it could be better, I could be nearer my kids and grand kids, I could be retired, my books could be selling more, I could have more money…and before you know it I’m off on a negative bent.

It’s so crazy what a little thing like a filter can do to a day or a life.

“Be careful how you see…”

No wonder Jesus said that in many ways over and over. How you perceive things determines how you think. How you think determines how you feel. How you feel determines how your life looks to you, and soon what you believe.

It’s like the body’s inflammation cascade–one thing starts another, that starts another, that sets off another until you are sick or anxiety riddled. And it may have been just a thought.

If I perceive something as negative when it wasn’t, like thinking an old rope in the path is a snake, I’ll have a bad reaction. If I won’t look to see that the snake is merely a rope, then the truth can’t do me any good. I’ll walk on in fear.

However, if I stop and look and see that what I thought was a snake was really a rope, then no matter how many times I look at it again I won’t be afraid of it. I might even let the relief bring me humor and joy.

Of course, I could choose to focus on worrying if there will be a real snake down the road. That’s called borrowing trouble. And a lot of us do it. It’s easy to fall into.

Why should I ruin today with tomorrow’s fear?

If God is good, and personally interested in everything we do…

“But evil lives here too! bad things happen!” you interject.

And you’d be right. But if you have given yourself to God, only what He allows can happen to you. And if He allows it then good can come from it unless you rebel.

So don’t get angry or fearful. Take it as God believing in you–there’s a whole universe watching. It’s  a complement–an honor. Who knows what He can do.

It is your choice. Check your filters often and change them if they need it.

And by the way, the rest of my day went much better after I changed my thinking.

 

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Joy, Living well, Loved, Mental Health, Uncategorized, What is God like?

My Mother Taught Me to Fly…

is written on a tiny piece of wood on my dresser. I gave it to Mom a few years before she died.

It seems appropriate to continue my joy-writing on my mother’s birthday. She was a person of joy even though she had a difficult life and didn’t get what she really wanted. In some ways I think she got more.

She so wanted an education. They couldn’t afford it. She needed to work to help the family. It was still the Depression.

She wanted to become an artist and a writer–she had dreams and ambition–she was a strong woman. But not strong enough to withstand my father’s advances. She got married at 19.

She has duplicated herself six times over. She put her strength into her children. And her strength was a desire to know God’s love, experience it, and share it.  I believe everyone of her children achieved that before death, or are still achieving it as the highest priority of their lives (my two brothers preceded her in death).

That is quite an accomplishment. In my mind, it is the highest. Is their anything that matters more than giving your kids the most important foundation in life? Anything more important than knowing and being loved by God?

Health is important because without it your mind and body will find it harder to make those chemical-electrical connections in your brain that lead to good choices. But it only makes all the important things in life easier, it’s not the thing.

Knowing how to receive love and give it is important. But again, that is only harder without getting it first from parents and then from God.

Being able to choose your perspective is very important because that forms healthy (constructive) or unhealthy (destructive) beliefs and choices. (Poor Robin Williams–who felt he had no more good choices! And we are amazed that one with so much could feel and think that.)

Scripture says that joy is in the presence of God. If you don’t know that–never learned it–you are definitely handicapped, life is harder.

Do you know how to go into God’s presence? Do you know how to experience His love?

My devotional this morning says, “I crafted you with enormous capacity to know Me and enjoy My Presence… The more you focus on My Presence with  you, the more fully you can enjoy your life.” This is Jesus speaking (Jesus Calling, 2008)

But what if you have never done that? Don’t even know God or Jesus?

An easy place to start is a choice. Set aside ten minutes to be with Him. Tell Him you want to meet with Him every day and have His joy, then  go to “God in your Face” (facebook) OR http://Godhelps.net/Godinabox and read  the day’s short reading on Jesus’ life. He was our clearest picture of God. While reading, breathe in seven seconds and out seven and keep breathing rhythmically while trying to imagine being there. (This is meditation and 12 minutes a day for 30 days has been shown to change physical numbers.)

Make that a habit and you will have a great start on knowing God and experiencing Joy. And my mother’s legacy will reach you, and who knows, maybe even your children! It is the best legacy you can give.

My mother didn’t miss out. She will have eternity to create art. She already created six masterpieces. I know that because they will last through eternity. What great artist can say that?

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Grief, Health, Joy, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Parenting, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Men, Add Some Joy to Your Most Significant Relationship!

The following fits so well with what I’ve been talking about lately, I just had to share it. It’s a guest post from therapist Peter Pearson.

 I was talking with a couple the other day and they told me about an experiment they were trying.

It was so brilliant I wanted to pass it on as another tip.

Here’s what the man had said to his wife:

“I will give you twenty minutes a day. You have my complete attention to direct me any way you wish. I will do chores, parenting responsibilities, discuss a topic of your choice, hold down the fort while you do something that feels refreshing and nurturing for yourself, or even gaze into your eyes if you wish.”

Think about it. A twenty-minute gift to his wife every day.

Her immediate response? “Wow,! I can’t believe it! This is too good to be true. He is such a workaholic. And now he is going to do this – for me?”

After going through this new routine for a couple of days, she thought “I want to give him back something for his generosity.”

Their process of mutually giving and receiving increased.

 On his part it was a leap of faith. Yes, he had the thought, “What the heck am I getting into? What am I setting myself up for? Will this make me her slave… will she lose respect for me?”

 It was an emotional risk. It would take effort.

 But it turned out to have big unexpected rewards.

 Are you willing to donate twenty minutes a day for your marital or relationship makeover? What if you start with this generous offer today?

 You are giving a gift to the most important adult in your life. Is enhancing this key relationship worth twenty minutes?

 The power of twenty minutes is exceptional. You now have it in your hands. There will be unexpected rewards but please don’t try to predict them.

 Just be open to a new experience.

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Filed under Joy, Living well, Love ed, Marriage, Mental Health

Adding Joy

This morning I got up late but the most beautiful sight greeted me. The whole sky was covered with broken clouds and the sun had just come up behind them. It was catching on some of them. I had to go outside and look and be part of it.

Right above me was a bright collection, and then here and there were bright spots of clouds. It was interesting to me that not all the clouds were lit up. A few on the horizon and to either side of the sun,  a few  diagonally, a cluster to the side of those above me, and as I turned around they extended in a few patches to the other horizon, where were more–evidently just the ones that were on the same elevation.

I couldn’t help but think it was like us. Not everyone catches the Son’s radiance. Just those who are on the same wave-length–those who want it, and believe they are loved.

I believe Love is the ultimate energy and that God is Love. I don’t think He is just abstract energy, He (They–in my mind) are very personal, at times almost taking my breath away and making me cry to imagine being so loved–so sweetly, personally, loved. This energy is real. To the point of changing physical numbers. (More on this next time.) This time I want to finish with the three laws of the mind out of Philippians.

My friend walked up to me after church yesterday and said, “I thought of you–you could have given that sermon.”

I admitted I’d thought that for the last three weeks. But to know it and apply it–ah, that’s two different things. But it’s been a good week of reading the list in the last post every day, so they come to mind off and on.

First you set your intention–“the want to” factor–have to have that. Then you expose your mind–like getting on the same wave-length. Paul isn’t saying pretend to be joyful, he is saying change the way you think (3:15, 4:8) and change your habits.

He’s talking about the three laws of the mind: the law of attention–what you focus on grows; the law of exchange–eliminate some thoughts and actions and choose the good; and the law of reversibility–action and thinking turn into feelings. If you focus, choose, and act “as if” God loves you, as if you are positive about that, it will become your reality and joy will overtake you.

To a large extent, we create our own reality. If you don’t like your feelings or situation, change your thinking and actions, hold to it and watch your life change. Feelings follow thoughts and actions. You can’t control other peoples’ thoughts or actions, but you can control your own by choice, and your feelings will change. After a little while your life will change too.

Add some joy to your life.

 

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Filed under A God perspective, Joy, Living well, Loved, Mental Health, Uncategorized, What is God like?

I’m stuck on my pastor’s remark yesterday, “You are called to build a life of joy!”

Really? I could? Me?

I loved it. And I knew it was coming straight from Phillipians 2–knew it was Biblical. But is it really possible?

He gave the template. He’s great about things like that.

But joy is elusive for me. I have been working for years just to stop seeing what is wrong before I see what is right about life. I have a melancholy-dominant personality type–we’re the thinkers, the contemplatives, but we trend towards negativity easily. It’s been one of the challenges of my life. I have moments of joy, hours of joy. Even sometimes days, but a life of joy? That is something I dream about.

I’m so glad discipline is not too hard for a melancholy, and so grateful that I’ve built in the discipline of an early-morning time with God. This morning He took me to John 17, right to the word “joy”.

I knew the chapter was Jesus prayer for us just before his passion, and I thought it had something about joy in it, and there it was: “I’m saying this in the world so my joy may be fulfilled in them…”

Jesus prayed a lot, and most of what he prayed was not recorded. Five times are all that come to mind, but this he spoke out loud so someone would record it. His prayer for his followers–what he wanted us to know, to have. A life of joy.

I’ve heard about this. Charles deFoucald’s friend described the Trappist monk, “It was as if someone was always singing inside the frail priest, and if you were quiet enough you could hear it too.”

I covet a relationship with God like that.

Does this grab you too?

Would you like to know how to build a life of joy?

Here is the template:

  • Recognize the true source of life–my self-worth comes from God
  • Forgive others and yourself quickly and without exception (this frees you from hurt and anger)
  • Focus on your God-given strengths (what you focus on grows)
  • Eliminate negative self-talk (say “stop” to your negative thoughts)
  • Introduce joy talk (shouldn’t be hard if you are thinking about it)
  • Practice extreme self-care (when I take meticulous care of my mind, body and spirit, I am more likely to make decisions that empower me and keep me full of joy.)
  • Dwell on the person God wants for you to be (that gorgeous person in that radiant smile and amazing robe–an earlier blog)
  • Think of the wonderful plans God has for you (Jer 29:11–ask him to show you)
  • Arise from prayer smiling (or crying–that is sometimes even richer)
  • Treat your spouse and children as they could be/should be treated   (and they will become it!)
  • Take the initiative to act in joy in your relationships  (may have to get help on this one)                  (From The 4:8 Principle–parentheses mine)

Come on, do it with me. It’s the life we’re called to!

Need daily help? See my blog on Jesus’ life: http://Godhelps.net/God-in-a-Box    It posts every weeknight at 8:00, and will come to your email inbox free if you sign up. (It will take you through Jesus life in a year–the clearest picture of God we have.)

 

 

 

 

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July 20, 2014 · 3:24 pm