This is my Christmas Tree. I love it, not only because I think it's beautiful, but because it reminds me to keep my joy.
Let me explain: The Day after Thanksgiving is quite possibly my favorite day of the entire year. I love to get up early and go get all the good deals for my husband and kids. I love that when I come home, Joel has dragged all the Christmas decorations out of storage for me and they are ready to set up, I love that I eat leftover turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and then turn on the Christmas music and get to work. I am always so happy on this day. It is so much fun to set up the tree and get the house ready for Christmas. I love how excited the girls are as we put up the tree. I love that when the tree was done this year, Chloe said: "It's my Christmas! I made it!"--she was so proud because she helped with it. I love how much Bria's eyes light up as she got to hang most of the ornaments all by herself. I love spending uninterrupted time with Joel and the girls, and most of all, I love how joyful I feel.
This was all particularly meaningful to me this year because just the week before we'd had an Enrichment activity about keeping your joy. We had a wonderful speaker, and I can honestly say that many of the things she said totally changed my perspective. I want nothing more than to keep my joy. Who likes to be without it? I don't know a single person who enjoys being miserable, sad and lonely. And yet, we all find ourselves in that funk sometimes--some of us more than others. But men are that they might have joy...so what can be done, or should be done, about those blue times that we all have?
Now, I can honestly say that generally, I am a very optimistic person. I try very hard to be nice to everyone and to be understanding and non-complaining. And I am usually pretty happy. Sometimes, though, I just lose all of that happy optimism and complain my little heart away, feel sorry for myself and become quite critical of those around me. While sitting in Enrichment listeining to this gal speak to us, I had a little lightbulb moment. She was talking about how keeping our joy all starts in our thoughts and that we need to keep our thoughts optimistic and positive in order to have real joy in our lives. Something about our thoughts become our feelings which become our actions which become our habits which become our character which become our lives. If somewhere along the line we are finding negativity in any of those things, we need to go all the way back to our thoughts to turn it around. In my mind I was thinking, "yeah, yeah. Everybody knows that..." and that's when she said the thing that really changed my own thinking.
"Not all of our thoughts are our own."
Voila! And there it was. I can honestly say that when I am having my most down moments it is because I start listening to those thoughts that are not mine....the ones that say. "you're fat." "you're ugly" "you're not good enough" "you can't do that....you'll never succeed" and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. And because I've been in one of these funks lately, I realized what was happening to me as she talked about it. I am letting the adversary convince me that I am worthless, that nobody likes me and everybody hates me and so I should go eat worms.
Since that day I've been happier. Just realizing who is putting those thoughts into my head has gone a long way towards learning not to listen to them. To tell myself that I really am a pretty great person. I do like myself, and when I can remember all my good traits, and stop worrying so much about how I might not measure up in this area or to that person, I can keep my joy. I can also keep my joy by just being thankful for the here and now that is offered me...there is always an upside to every situation, and I am trying to be more conscious of what they are.
More on that later...for now, I am trying to keep the joy of the Christmas season with me always, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job!