What is joy? In our process of maturing, we often think that joy is the result of happy circumstances. And it may be. I have seen a little rabbit run across the sidewalk and into the grass, and I had a feeling of joy.
We find joy in happy experiences and in our relationships with our loved ones. But joy is a deeper thing than just the result of happy circumstances. If it were only such a result, there would be times, many times, when we could not have joy; and in Truth, joy is always ours.
A more mature view of joy is that it is a by-product of serving others, of sharing good.
It may be the sense of a job well and honestly done. But joy is even more than this. It is not a result of anything—of good deeds, of doing work well, of anything else. Joy is not a result; it is a cause. It can happen to us, but we can also make it happen and make other things happen because of it.
Joy is a spiritual principle that we can lay hold of and use. It is a principle that we can use all the time, whether outer conditions are as favorable as we would like them to be or not. And if they are not what we wish, we can do more than put up with them; we can make them improve by using the principle of spiritual joy.
Joy is a good influence in any situation, and there are many ways we can express joy—with positive thoughts, pleasant words, a smile, even by using our sense of humor. …
As Nehemiah said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10), because joy in our inward being irresistibly calls forth joy in the outer world.
… We cannot wait for circumstances to bring us joy; we must make our own joy and let it act upon circumstances.
One of the paradoxes of Truth is that a happy heart draws to itself all that it needs for happiness. And we can keep our hearts happy by drawing on the wellspring of joy that is a part of our spiritual nature.
Any problem or trouble can be overcome by the power of joy. Some overcomings take longer than others. But even if we are dealing with a problem of long standing, that is no reason to despair or to give up hope of solving new problems that come along.
But how do we cultivate joy in the heart, more joy in our lives?
Use is the law of increase. If we want more joy, we must use joy. We must lay hold on joy, and let it well up from within us through thought, word, and action.
First, we must realize that God is the source of our joy, the only Source. People and things and situations are wonderful when all is well, but since they may change, we must not place our spiritual dependence on them. We must depend on the Source which cannot change and from which all good flows.
Second, we must be poised and centered in the Christ mind to use the power of joy. We can make our work and play alike, pleasant and creative, if we practice the presence of God. When we realize that we are always one with God, we work with the joy and ease of the power of God within us. Even when our attention is on the work at hand, we can learn to go through every day with the feeling of God’s presence, with the knowledge of God’s love, power, and joy flowing through us.
Third, being centered in the Christ mind, we can speak the word and do that which is needed to bring forth joy. Remember: ... But suppose we cannot feel any joy in our being? Are there ways we can make it spring up? Indeed there are! There are material ways, such as cheering ourselves up with bright clothes, a bouquet of flowers, a good dinner, or some other pleasant experience.
We should also, however, use the spiritual ways of cultivating joy. We can stop turning our attention so far inward on our own personal universe and its problems. We can turn outward instead, to consider others and what we can do for them. When we can bring joy to others, we always find joy ourselves. …
Another way we can increase in our hearts is by counting our blessings and giving thanks for them.
We do not need a great stimulus to feel the joy of giving thanks. If we appreciate the smallest blessing that comes to us or that has always been with us, and take nothing for granted, we find that we are living in a constant state of joy.
There are three chief things to remember about joy if we want its power to live by. It is the cause, not the effect, of good in our lives. It increases for us through use, because when we speak, think, and act with joy, there is no room for anything else in our lives. We can cultivate joy with material helps and by serving others, turning our attention outward rather than inward, and giving sincere thanks to God for all our blessings.