Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had many people say a very similar sentence to me when we end up talking about all of the changes and events that have been happening in my life:
“Wow, I’m so inspired by how positive you are in all of this”
Or some sort of variation of that sentiment. While I find that to be very uplifting to hear; every time I hear someone say that to me I feel like I need to let you in on a little secret.
Being positive is not something that comes easily or naturally to…well…anyone. It’s not something that you’re born with or something that you just “grow into” at some point in your life. Being positive is a learned behaviour, but more than that it’s a learned discipline. It’s a constant conscious choice to look for the good in a situation, even if right now all you can see is the bad.
And right now, I don’t want to be making that choice.
I am worn down from always trying to look for the good in things. I just want to feel the sadness that comes with the situation. I want to wallow and curl up in a ball and just not have to try to be happy all of the time. And that my dear friends is what happens when you place happiness as the root of positivity instead of…
…Instead of what?
What else is there?
Instead of joyfulness. Now if you’re like me, then you probably often get the two confused or have never really understood the difference in the first place. What I have found is that happiness and joyfulness, while they are very similar, are in fact two totally different things. The best way that I can describe this difference is that happiness is a feeling and joyfulness is a state of being. Feelings come and go and we really don’t have a whole lot of control over when they come and go. However, a state of being is something that we are consciously working towards attaining.
When we place happiness as the root of positivity in our lives we end up plastering a fake smile on our face 24/7 because we feel like we should be happy no matter the circumstances. However, when we place joyfulness as the root of positivity we end up in a place where we can feel emotions without being consumed by them; because joy balances them out by allowing us to see the promise in the pain. And I choose to assign joyfulness as the root of positivity in my life.
You can still be joyful even when everything is going wrong. The feeling of happiness only comes around when things are going good and the world seems to be going your way. But at the first sign of trouble, happy hops in the car and high-tails is out of here. Whereas joy sticks around in the pain.
You can be joyful, even when the whole world is falling down around you. Being joyful is allowing yourself to feel the sadness and disappointment while refusing to be bogged down by despair. That is where the discipline of choosing joy comes in. Choosing the hope of a better plan over the crashing waves of momentary melancholy is not always easy, but it is worth it. When it seems like all you have is shattered glass, choosing joy allows you to glimpse the stained glass window that will eventually be created from it all. It’s seeing the beauty in the ashes.
This is not always a natural choice to make. I speak from experience when I say that some days the allure of being miserable is far more attractive than the promise of rebirth. Some days all I want to do is hurl myself into the sea of sadness and self-pity, to cut my hands on the glass of my broken dreams as I try to return the scattered shards to what they previously were. But on those days there’s a quiet voice that whispers at the back of my mind, “Wouldn’t those pieces look far more beautiful as a stained glass window than the glass bowl that they used to be?”
Look for the beauty in the ashes.
Look for the rebirth amongst the rubble.
Look for the joy in the everyday.
It’s not an easy choice to make to be positive, but it is a worthwhile one. You just have to remember to check and make sure that you have joy as the root of your positivity, not happiness. Otherwise, your quest for a state of positive being will be thwarted before you even begin. Joy doesn’t guarantee that your life will be brighter, but it does promise that your view of the world will be just a little bit more radiant.