The question arises many times when I am counselling someone: ‘How can I have a happy and abundant life when so many things are going wrong?’ Easter is a time and a season of joy – joy in the Resurrection, joy in our expectant anticipation of new life in Christ. So I would like to write briefly about some keys to experiencing joy in life.
Firstly, love your self, know that you are a child of God, and that He loves you, even though you may feel that no one else does. Cultivate a deep sense of well-being and the ability to smile lovingly at yourself and feel the joy of being you. Have you tried hugging yourself? Or giving yourself an inward smile that tells your body “I appreciate your helping me stay healthy”? God loves you for who you are, not for who other people think you are.
Secondly, care about others. Strive to find your path between the opposites of self-sacrifice and self-centeredness. This will entail developing the skill of being able to distinguish between caring that is heart-felt and appropriate, and caring that becomes over-caring, over-protective, smothering and burdensome to both you and the recipient. In caring we must learn to accept others as they are, without trying so hard to change them into what we want them to be. We must also continue to love and care for others through disagreement and times of conflict. Jesus tells us to love others as He loves us. I believe this also applies to caring. We can paraphrase this as “I will care for others as I care for myself.”
I have found that another important key to happiness is to practice your faith consistently, honestly, and with utmost sincerity…in other words, with all your heart, your mind, and your strength. And this is easier done in community, together with other brothers and sisters who can encourage you and support you through the rough spots in life. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Together means together with God and together with others. For me, the BCBP community has been the source of my strength and perseverance in my profession and my life; I know that without the BCBP I would not be what I am now.
Of course, there are many other keys to a joyful life: sharing, singing inspiring songs, having a keen sense of humor, taking time out to smell the flowers, being aware of God’s presence in our everyday lives…and innumerable more that I am sure you can list. And I encourage you to make a list of the things that give you joy, that contribute to your happiness and the happiness of your family and friends. Add answered prayers to the list. Then when you are feeling down, just go back and review your list. Discover that joy is real and realizing the joys in your life can truly help you be an upbeat person, an all-year round Easter person!