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Nov 2, 2011

Joyful recap

I have been thinking about my October project of finding daily joys in my life.  It's hard to believe that the month passed so quickly!  Though I didn't record my joys every single day, I kept a fairly good record, and I am glad.

Two things have been on my mind as I ponder this project's conclusion.  One is that joy is rooted in a grateful heart.  Noticing my blessings is a sure way to feel happier. During Saturday's adult session of stake conference, our stake president affirmed that idea.  He quoted a study of gratitude and well-being (details here).  I was pleased to hear that, according to the study, people who kept gratitude journals felt better about their lives.  I also love this statement that a friend shared with me recently: "We all know that the Spirit brings joy.  The revelation to me is that joy brings the Spirit.  When we are happy, the Spirit flows freely -- otherwise it does not." (Truman G. Madsen, "The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength,"  BYU Devotional, November 21, 2000.)

Secondly, my deepest and truest joys are in eternal things.  Sure, the good night of sleep, the speedy checker at Walmart, and the compliment from a stranger all boost my mood, but true and lasting happiness comes from my family and my faith.  During October, Kate's blessing day brought true joy.  Playing with my kids brought true joy.  Appreciating God's creations, a rich friendship, and my testimony of the Savior brought joy.

Mostly I have learned (or re-learned) that joy is a choice.  It takes thought and effort and wisdom to choose joy in the big things and the little things.  I know all too well that joyful moments and events can be obscured by my own poor choices.  It is liberating to know I am not a victim of my circumstances.  Others' opinions and behavior do not have to drive my mood. Sometimes it's really difficult, but I can choose joy no matter what.

I think that's what God wants for me. After all, He said that "men [and women] are, that they might have joy."
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