Think Most About the Joy of Each Day

Summary: when we invest our time in thinking most about the things that will give us joy, we will feel more calm, energy, and strength to move forward.

When you think of philosophy, you might think of esoteric questions like, “Is the chair really there?” or “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Those questions are more important than may appear at first glance, but most people are not really that interested in them. What people are interested in is finding a way to live better and make it through the struggles of life. The Stoics and many other philosophers in the time of Christ made that their focus. The philosopher Seneca made a surprising statement about what our most important task was. He wrote to his young apprentice Lucilius, “Above all, my dear Lucilius, make this your business. Learn how to feel joy” (Letter XXIII). How about a philosophy class that started out that way? Our first priority will be to help us all feel true joy.

It’s a business or a task, though, because joy is not always easy to come by. There’s a lot that can keep us from feeling joy.

To begin with, we do not work on it. Have we ever made it a goal? How many of us want to become people of great joy? How often have we prayed for it?

Second, we tend to focus on the negative. If one person says we are ugly, it will roll around in our mind far more than ninety-nine people who say we are beautiful. Negativity sticks. Positivity quickly fades.

Third, we do not know how to go about it. Even if we wanted to make it a goal to be a people of joy, we would not know how to do it.

Finally, we tend to think that our emotions are simply there, and we can’t do much about them. Consequently, our emotions sit there, and we make little progress year after year.

What I have found, though, is that emotions can change. They change based on how we see. They change when we can take control of how we look at things.

One challenge is learning to control negative emotions like fear or anger. We can do this by analyzing our fear and anger and asking whether or not our emotions really matches reality. Then, we can begin to introduce new thoughts. For example, we may experience rejection, but that may lead us to seek out new friends. We may get fired from a job, but that may give us a new opportunity that is better than the one before. We can reinterpret bad things.

How to Develop Joy
However, we can also change the balance of our emotional scorecard by simply thinking more about good things. Don’t ignore the bad. Take in the good. As the missionary Paul put it in the Bible, “sorrowing yet rejoicing.”

In addition, take control of your thoughts. We often let our mind wander. This leads us to resentment about the past, worry about the future, and focus on trivial matters.

What if we used those moments when our mind was free to think about the things that bring us joy? What if we thought about our friends, our spouse, our children, our dog, our home, and our car? What if we thought more about good meals, coffee, and drinks? What if we looked up and just savored the beauty around us? What if we took stock of our accomplishments and enjoyed them? What if we thought about all the good experiences we have had?

I want you to try something this week. Every time you have a good experience this week, take 10 seconds to let it dwell in your mind. If that is too much, take five seconds. We do it so little that even a small advance can make a big difference.

What if we thought more about the joy of each day? It would change the way we think about the world. It would bring us more joy. This is what the Apostle Paul called “taking every thought captive.” That’s our opportunity: to direct our thoughts where we want them to go. By thinking most about the joy of each day, we will change the way we approach the world. We will still see the bad, but we will also see the good. This will help keep us sane in an insane world.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope it was an encouragement to you. If you liked it, please share it on social media and subscribe to this blog. Either way, I hope to see you here again.


Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash


Leave a Reply