Joy is a Habit you Cultivate

I heard it once said: Joy is habit you cultivate. Joy- a habit? I thought it was a feeling. The dictionary says so.

Joy is habit you cultivate. These words ring in my ears and force me to consider that perhaps joy is much more than a feeling. So, if joy is a habit, how do you cultivate it? Take a garden, for example. Now, I’m only a gardener in my fairy tale dreams that include a simpler life on a prairie, but I know enough to understand that in order to plant a garden that will thrive it must be cultivated. Before planting seeds, soil must be prepared, broken up. It must be made ready for planting. Wait, am I to understand that joy can be a part of brokenness? Say what? I thought brokenness was marked by sadness.

The Bible tells stories of the countless ones who have gone before while, in the midst of severe tragedy, were marked as ones who were filled with joy.

Now, I’ve got it pretty good. Probably better than I should. My life is not marked by severe tragedy, but rather by the daily woes one faces in this not-yet-made-right world. But do I have joy? The answer is sadly that many days, I do not. I choose to fix my gaze on my circumstances rather than on truth.

So how does one cultivate joy? I believe the answer lies somewhere in the daily decision of simply choosing it. I can hear the retort, “Well, you don’t know what I deal with every day.” This is true. I know that people have hard lives that I cannot relate with or understand. But one thing I do understand is this: God is not a liar. His word is full of promises. And, Jesus, for the JOY set before him, willingly went to the cross. He was born to die and the Man of Sorrows suffered indeed. And yet there was joy before him.

I feel I am still working through this and discovering daily joy. I need to play more with my children, who are full of more smiles and laughter than I am. I need to stop the huffing and puffing (literally) when things don’t go my way. We need more dance parties in our kitchen. And more of Jesus. Simple, yet profound. More of Jesus.

“Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.”

–Henry J. van Dyke


3 thoughts on “Joy is a Habit you Cultivate

  1. Ahh sweet Erin, how glad I was to read your beautiful words and to know that you are desiring to cultivate the habit of joy. I was a little caught off guard the other day when someone asked me why I always seem so happy. As I began to answer with the reason for my joy, my eyes filled with tears because I know that I have not always choosen that joy. You were right on when you talked about being able to cultivate this habit. I think maybe cultivating joy takes some sacrifice, it means giving up one’s agenda sometimes and living with intention. One of my very favorite verses that I dwell on often is Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    As always, I love reading your blog and continue to pray for you and give thanks to God for putting you in my life. I love you! Nan

  2. it’s funny. i used to think i misplaced my joy at times. like i would ask people if they knew where it went, as if it’s like losing my keys. sometimes the sorrow is there and you have to work with that brokenness. eventually joy will come. cultivate it, chose it. be conscious of it. but i know what you mean.

    joy will come in the morning. … i can’t find a video with the actual song. but it’s a beautiful song.

  3. Well said, my love.

    “When heart and mind are full of that joy, joy beyond measure will remain. Hence, not all of that joy shall enter into those who rejoice, but they who rejoice shall wholly enter into that joy.”
    St. Anselm

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