Most of us have times when things are not pretty, when times are tough, when it seems like the world we know is crumbling around us; we may become frustrated and it’s hard to find a reason to be joyful.
As the new year begins, many of us may be thinking that no new year’s resolution (even if followed) has the power to help us to survive the year ahead. It's true that life is going to be difficult in new and complex ways. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty for the coming year, it may be helpful to consider a new perspective for coping. Coping requires clarifying your thinking, adjusting your expectations, finding the good that is present in the world and growing from our misfortunes.
First, it’s important to distinguish Joy from Happiness. Happiness suggests that you are free of trouble, worry and care. However, that feeling is temporary. You’re happy when things go as you think they should but when things change toward the negative, your happiness is gone. Joy is about shifting your focus to what is good and right in the world. So, happiness is fleeting, but joy sticks around. Joy is there if you look and think hard enough. When you do, you’ll find something for which to be thankful that will help you to keep on keeping on.
Start with the basics. Be thankful for something, no matter how small: for another day, for the beauty of nature; for the smile of a stranger; for the love of those who care. Then, this is harder to accept for most people but you can be thankful situation that’s causing you pain. Tough times help us to grow our character and preseverence. People grow very little when they are happy. However, when we have hard times, when we’re in the midst of struggles, when we’re at the end of our rope, our survival instinct kicks in, we get tough, creative and ready to tackle the situation head on. Trials are no fun, but they make us stronger. Happiness won't get us through hard times in the long run but Joy will.
We have entered a period of profound changes for ourselves and our nation, both the goodness and the difficulty need to be acknowledged. So, how does a person go about being joyful during these difficult times?
Psychologists draw on an ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge about how we think, act and feel and they apply the information to help make things better for us all. Here are some tips for having a more joyful new year.
What’s A Person To Do?
1. Decide how you want to be a part of the solution rather than using your time complaining about the things that are causing pain.
2. Select the things you can change and set realistic, attainable goals for changing them. Let go of the rest.
3. Embrace change. Things will not always be as you want them to be. Keep a journal and evaluate your progress this time next year.
4. No matter what happens find good in it. And find the good in each person you meet.
© Rachell N. Anderson, Psy. D. December 21, 2016
Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives in Tunica and writes with the Tunica Chapter of the Mississippi Writers Guild in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.