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"Rejoice in the Lord always!" Philippians 4:4
FOR YOUR REFLECTION: Understanding the difference between happiness and joy is the foundation of The Joy Project. Here is how I think of it: happiness is an experience of the present, rooted in things outside of ourselves. The word "happiness" is rooted in the same Latin base as "happen" and "happenstance." Thus, happiness is situational, external and mostly out of our control.
Joy is different-joy is an internal state, a way of being that is not dependent on what is taking place outside of ourselves. It is both a spiritual gift of our very nature and a state that can be cultivated as a skill. (Book of Joy, page 45)  In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), Jesus shares a series of "blessings." The Greek word used in the Bible for "blessed" can be literally translated as: "the joy of being...." Can one really be joyful if poor, hungry or in mourning?   Yes!   For joy is that inner way of being that knows that God is love and no matter what the external circumstances, God is with us and walks through life, sometimes by our side, sometimes carrying us. In the old hymn, we sing, "How firm a foundation!" Joy is that firm foundation of God's presence and grace in our spirits. The Joy Project is an opportunity to find, nurture and deepen your own joy.
FROM THE BOOK OF JOY: "Joy is different from happiness. When I use the word happiness, in a sense, I mean satisfaction." (page 35, the Dalai Lama speaking)
QUESTIONS FOR EXPLORING JOY: What makes you the most happy? What feeds your deepest joy?
ACTION STEPS: When you find yourself in a difficult or trying situation, imagine God present with you, holding you, walking with you. Allow God to strengthen your spirit, right then and there. You may want to take a few deep breaths, breathing in God's love and breathing out what is difficult. You may want to place your hands on your heart, envision God surrounding you with comfort and peace or listen for words of comfort. Envision yourself not alone, but having God with you.
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