About a year ago, I started an extension to my daily devotions. I take one trait from the “fruits of the spirit” listed in Galatians (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control), and do my best to practice that trait throughout the day. Usually, I fail, but the point is to keep striving. This week, joy landed on a Monday. Monday is already universally hated by all office staff everywhere, but Mondays have been especially rough where I am, with all the changes and negativity referenced in my last post still going strong. This is the day that I’m supposed to be joyful.
And that’s good. I won’t get into dictionary definitions here because they’re not really relevant to an intensely personal goal; but to me, happiness and joy are very different things. Happiness is a feeling that happens as a result of something positive, like spending time around people you love, or finding enjoyment in your art, or being surprised by someone who knows you really well. Joy, on the other hand, isn’t a feeling at all, but a spirit. Joy is an active choice to find reasons to be happy and to look on the bright side. Like most things, it wouldn’t be so remarkable if it were easy.
I didn’t feel very motivated today, but I tried. I kept my complaints to a minimum and bit my tongue when I heard others complain. Every time I had a break, I read a bit of The Swish of the Curtain, which is adorable. I dressed in an outfit that makes even me feel cute, and I enjoyed the errands that got me out of the office for a bit. I looked up pretty poetry on my phone when I was bored. I listened to a combination of Christmas music, Hamilton, and Disney. All little things, but they kept my mood lighter and formed a wall of resistance against drudge and frustration. I prayed throughout.
I’d never say I did it well. I don’t think my spirit today could have been called anything close to joyful. But it was one of the less abysmal failures since I started the project, and it was a better Monday than I’ve had in a long time. Most of the time, it’s hard to see any improvement I’ve made. It feels more like one step forward, six steps back. But every now and then, I have a day like today, and I keep trying.