Monday, October 31, 2016

The Art of Joyful Living, Pt. 1

Chang Kai Shek Memorial

My first talk at the women's conference went well and if felt like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders.  I slept soundly and woke feeling refreshed and ready to give my second presentation.

After choosing my title and seeing it printed on the leaflet, I googled The Art of Joyful Living to see what the great world wide web had to say about my topic.  I was a bit surprised to see site after site of new age and eastern religion sites using the phrase. So why don't Christians talk about creating a life that is joyful day in and day out?  Why don't we put things in place that will help us maintain an inner joy even when life dumps its garbage on us?

Joy doesn't just happen.  Happiness does, but longterm joy, the kind that stays in our hearts even when a typhoon rips at our soul, needs to be nurtured and grown.

Previously, I discussed what joy is - living our lives with the understanding of the grace that God has extended to us, and in that place we find JOY.  

Now I want to talk about how to cultivate it as an art in our lives.

Joy day in and day out isn't going to happen magically.  It will take purpose, planning and practice. That is when joy becomes an art.

Art:  1)  skill acquired by experience, study or observation (the art of making friends)
Art:  4)  a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice.

For 14 weeks this past spring, I got up every Saturday morning, rode my bike along the river and joined the AIT team to practice for Dragon Boat racing.  I had so much fun learning the skill of paddling the boat together.  We practiced our start and drumming and flag catching.  We worked on our paddle over and over again until we believed we had perfected the technique.  As the men were racing, I stood along the bank of the river watching.  Our men won their first round and moved into the second round.  The competition was tougher and I watched the "14 week" teams begin to lose as they raced against teams that trained year round.  I started to focus on the teams that were really good. They looked like they were a unit of one - their bodies and paddles moved as one.  Their power and force was amazing, yet it looked effortless.  Their boat didn't jerk through the water as ours did, rather it glided in a continuous motion.  It was beautiful to watch.  The is how our joy should appear to others - beautiful to watch.  It is an art, not a 14 week challenge.

Think about taking the time to invest in joy in your life.  Next week we'll look at some of the practical ways of making joy a priority and habit in your life.

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