By Arianna Gregor
Sometimes life is tough. Sometimes life feels great. Often it’s somewhere in between. Life is made up of so many different things: little moments, a spectrum of emotions, mundane tasks, exciting experiences, and trial and hardships. Often life seems to “just happen” and it’s easy to wonder where God is at or how to respond to what comes our way. But through it all there is always one choice that is up to us: whether or not to live with joy. I have found that even when life is rough, choosing joy is always the better option, and though I’m far from an expert, here are four things I have learned that have made it easier for me to live with joy:
1. Give Thanks.
Always. Even when you don’t understand. Someone once told me that to exist in a state of suffering is infinitely better than not existing at all, because it is only through existence that we can come to know God and live in union with Him. Find something in your life to thank God for and praise Him for it. There is always something, and a life of gratitude leads to a life of joy.
2. Offer It Up.
Cliché, I know. But it’s true. One of the greatest gifts of the Catholic Church is her teaching on redemptive suffering. Our hardships, united with Christ’s can bring about greater good in the world and give a deeper purpose to our joy. Skipping coffee once a week can help a single mother have the courage to choose life? Yes it can, by the grace of God.
3. Ask For Help.
Joy is a virtue. A virtue, by definition, is a good habit. God is the source of all goodness and He is the source of all joy. If we want to live a joyful life we should ask for His help, because we cannot do it on our own. God has an infinite amount of grace He wants to share; all we need to do is ask Him for it and have the courage to accept.
Joy is not complicated. Joy is recognizing the presence of God in our lives and letting that recognition affect the disposition of our heart. While happiness is a reaction to our outward circumstances, joy is a choice of how to respond to our life situations. Smile, even when you don’t feel happy, because a smile can symbolize the joy with which you choose to live.