At the start of this school year, Father Matthew gave everyone on our staff the book, "40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life" and asked us to read about it throughout the year. During our Faith Formation days, we then discuss our favorite readings and why they stuck out to us. Maybe I'm a chaotic person, maybe I just have a lot on my plate -- but I never read the book the way it's intended.
Each month, Father asks us to read a certain number of pages. The book is broken down into daily readings to make it easy. But, I don't do that. Instead, I flip through the pages we are meant to read that month and randomly select one I haven't read yet in hopes it will be exactly what I need to hear that day. I'm one "those" people.
Today, I read the reading entitled, "The Gift of the Present: The Joy of Right Now" and, wouldn't you know, it was exactly what I needed to hear today.
Let me share this excerpt with you:
Our thoughts, like our actions, have consequences. As relentlessly as you may try, you can not think one thing and experience something else. You cannot think negatively and live positively any more than you can plant apple seeds and expect to harvest oranges. If you desire to live a joy-filled life - a life that fulfills God's purpose for you - you must keep your thoughts fixed on the things of God.
In your thought life, there's no differentiation between past, present, and future. All you have is right now. This is the gift of the present. A blissful memory is experienced as present joy. A gloomy memory is experienced as present pain. As a result, thinking, talking, and worrying about what you DO NOT WANT can never bring you what you DO WANT.
The author went on to say that Jesus repeatedly reminds us that what we receive will be the result of what we believe.
I don't know about you, but life has a funny way of knocking you around so that your joyfulness can be often overshadowed by the "stuff" that you carry each day -- paying the bills, purchasing groceries or gas when the prices are consistently rising, making sure you're present at your job, but also present for your family -- oh, and don't forget to keep your faith life strong, too. It's a lot. For all of us.
Someone asked me the other day -- how do you deal with the constant negativity? How do you deal with pushy people, grumpy people, people who are just trying to cause problems. The truthful answer is -- I don't. Those things weigh on me, too and, if I don't watch it, I will fall into the same funk as the people who are bringing their negativity to me.
So what do I do? I surround myself with good people - people who lift me up on my low days, people who say "Hey, snap out of it!" when I'm feeling overly down. Most of all, I take time to enjoy the little things - a pretty sky on a fall morning, the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind, and eventually it brings me back to my normal, joyful place!
It's easy to get stuck in the rut of negativity, but being joyful, finding joy in the little things, is a lot more fun!