The difficult side of joy

I’ve come to realize that I’m very indecisive. So indecisive in fact that I could barely decide if I was. But just this week I decided. I’m indecisive. And I decided something else– It was keeping me from joy.

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I didn’t want to write this post at first because 1) I didn’t think anyone else had this problem. And 2) It seemed like too simple of a concept. But it wasn’t until a conversation I had with one of my best friends the other night that it occurred to me that maybe I’m not alone in thinking there’s one side to joy. I think many of us forget that one side of joy is more rewarding than the other–because we can choose it.

I told my friend a couple nights ago that I’ve officially decided to make changes–to take leaps of faith–and decide to dictate my life and choose to be happy instead of letting life just happen the way it wants. “Well…isn’t that the point?” my friend said.

And it is. But sometimes we don’t get the point until later on in life. Some people never get it.

See, I’ve always been a positive person. Not many people see me without a smile *unless it’s 4 in the morning– because I am NOT a morning person*. I always laugh off problems and I’m a master at sweeping things under the rug and only lifting the rug to inspect the mess when no one else is around and I’m free to sulk on my own and fester in worry. I have a knack for tending to other people’s problems before my own and this very blog post will come as a surprise to nearly 95 percent of my friends. BUT alas–it is true. I sometimes forget that joy is two-sided. And that it can indeed be difficult to choose it.

The first side of joy, I’ve come to find, is the joy that happens to you.

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It’s the birth of a baby. That promotion you’ve been crossing your fingers for. It’s the day where everything is going right, the sun is out, it’s a friday, and the paycheck was good. It’s the moment when you get a phone call from your best friend or you buy your wedding dress and take a look in the mirror. THAT side of joy happens to you without any effort. And it’s our favorite kind. If you deny that–well, I’m pretty sure you’re either lying or you’re just a saint.

Then–there’s the other side of joy. The joy we choose.

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This is the side of joy, I’ve come to find, that can be difficult. It’s difficult simply because it doesn’t exist unless you decide to create it. This is the kind of joy that comes after a year of agonizing through a job you hate and finally deciding to quit and take a leap of faith that another job offer across the country will be better for you. This is the kind of joy that happens after you lost the person you love the most and all you want to do is watch Netflix in bed–but you decide to put on your shoes and go visit someone who’s sick. This is the kind of joy that happens when NOTHING is going right about the day, the paycheck is small, it’s a Monday, the car broke down, the baby won’t stop crying–and you decide to just BE happy anyway, laugh, and take note that the roses in the front lawn have just started blooming. This is the kind of joy that happens when you break free from an oppressive relationship–scared to be alone–but deciding it’s time to make a change. This is the difficult side of joy, and not just for indecisive folks like me.

It’s difficult to choose joy I think, because as humans we have that famous catchphrase that “Life happens” or “You-know-what happens” *Curse word not included*. And in turn, we let it happen–and we become these objects that are just acted upon over and over and over, tumbling and bruising and drifting. We easily fall into a sense of security with just letting the day pan out the way it may and reacting to everything simply because we’re not letting anything react to us.

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I don’t know about you–but I decided I’m not an object. 

I decided I need to–And YOU need to– start deciding more frequently that life is too precious to live under the authority of paychecks, commitments, fear of change, insecurity, opinions of others, or the whims of chance.

We weren’t created to be acted upon.

In 2nd Nephi 2:25 it clearly says: “Men are that they might have joy”. I’ve heard that scripture a lot. But I never realized until recently the big fat “MIGHT” in the sentence. It doesn’t say we will have joy. It doesn’t say we are given joy. It says we might have it.

But the stipulation is us.

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We’ll have joy if we decide we’re worth it. We’ll have it if we aren’t afraid of change. We’ll have it once we simply decide that it’s what we were created for after all. We’ll have it once we put effort into the gospel and time into those we love. We’ll have it once we realize that we write our own story and can choose what becomes the conflict and when the page can just simply turn without a second thought.

I realize that there are situations where it can be hard to choose joy. Chemical imbalances, mental illnesses, PTSD–and a multitude of other problems and ailments can change or alter the way one thinks or responds. And I’m thankful that there’s help for those kind of situations. I’m not minimizing the pain and frustration that come with that. But with the proper help or medication, there comes a point where you regain the ability to choose again.

We were all given that ability as soon as we came into existence.

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We come into contact with so many decisions every day. What to wear, what to cook for dinner, what to do first on a busy to-do list at work, what time to show up at the meeting, what to say to that sour-faced cashier. And we do it–even easily most of the time. But we often skip out on the choice to have joy. And that’s the most important choice of all today.

So, why not make the choice? As my friend would say–Isn’t that the point?

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10 thoughts on “The difficult side of joy

  1. I needed this blog today more then ever!! My problem is not that important to many who know me but it is something that is keeping me from having joy:( I have always had a weight problem as many I know do, but I know mine is more then wanting that cookie or just have to have that piece of chocolate at that time. I am confessing I do have a food compulsion:( the time my husband passed in December of last year my eating had got out of hand. and I do believe it did worse because I was putting in me what my husband never could. you see he had stomach cancer and at the last part of his life he was starving to the point he could not even drink water. so I know subconsciously I was feeling my mouth with the things he couldn’t:( weight problems are a issue to many, although my weight has taken all my joy and makes it very difficult to move forward. I know for a certain if I got control of my “addiction” I could start to live my live with much more purpose:) I have many goals in my life still, even though I am hitting 52 in June. I want to be here for my two beautiful girls and there future families:) and also come to a place where I can love myself again:) and today marks march 1st 2014, what better day then to start right now!!!! Thank you my dear Kayla!

  2. I love your blog and your honesty. I also love your pictures and sayings. Do you allow us to pin them? If so can you tell me how, I can’t find a P so I can pin. Thanks. Linda

  3. I have loved your blogs, too. At times we all feel as though we are alone in our feelings and that others wouldn’t understand. But most of us go through many of the same things in our lives and sharing is a big step toward healing. I have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and taken many drugs over the years to control this, but I find at 67 years old that sharing and allowing the pain in my life is much more healing that a pill.
    About the pain of allowing joy in your life – My father died in 1982 when my son was almost two years old. Many times I have cried because I knew my father would have found joy in his grandson’s activities. But these are good pains, pains that are there because of the love of both people that I love. And my mother, who was very close to my son died in 1991 when he was 10. And I know that I am not alone in my feelings, others have experienced the same pains, some of them friends that shared them with me.
    We all will make it, if we rise each morning with happiness to see another day and put one foot in front of the other, with God’s help.

  4. Several times a month I feel gratitude for having the blessings that came into my life by having the gift of cancer. I feel joy in knowing that Heavenly Father was by my side every step of the way. Several people have asked me how I could be so happy going through what i have gone through. I always reply that cancer could control me, or I could control it. I chose to be in control. Does that mean I wasn’t afraid, sick, or angry? No, but I choose joy, everyday, and I choose to live every day as if it is my last day…because it could be for any of us. I love that you too are choosing joy! I choose joy!

  5. Kayla, I don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to say this: I just LOVE you.

    Thank you for the ray of light you shine into an often dark, confusing world. And thank you for the light you share with my heart.

  6. God brought me to this blog via a friend of mine and I am so glad He did. Thank you, what you write makes a difference to those who read it.

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