I remember so many Januaries that were full of despair for me. So many Januaries where I would struggle to get up out of bed on put on my real clothes and buck up and act happy, trying to convince myself that everything was actually going to be alright. So many posts I wrote in an effort to say that "this is going to be my year!" and "let's make this the best year yet!" all while knowing that it was tough. It was going to be tough. And my heart wanted those years really to be good, but it was really just an uphill struggle. Blood, sweat, tears.
Januaries are a symbol to me of starting over. Not because it is necessarily the beginning of a new year, but because my big life-altering events (read: breakups, etc) have all happened in January. And last year, 2014, I was nervous all month. I was just waiting for that break-up speech to come out of Nathan's mouth. Not because I believed he was going to break up with me, but simply just because of all my past Januaries. But that break-up speech rightfully never came and with the onset of February, I relaxed a little.
This January is not filled with despair or anxiety this year, but instead with joy and hope. Real hope and real joy.
Christmas eve I spent at church with my family. Our pastor spoke on the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness, he said, was based on circumstance. It was situational and very, very temporary. And I had this sort of realization inside my head about just exactly how right he was about it.
Happiness is extremely temporary, and yet we say it all the time. "All I want in life is just to be happy." And "all I want for my children is for them to be happy." And why is it that we only strive for happiness? Happiness will go away when things change. It doesn't fill you up. It doesn't sustain you. You can't live in a constant state of happy because you always have to go "back to reality."
So I made a resolution right then and there that I was going to make a conscious choice not to be happy. I was going to be joyful. My tattoo on my shoulder is about having joy in every situation. Joy is not temporary and it doesn't go away with circumstantial changes. In even the darkest of moments, we can be joyful and hopeful because we know that we are not going to stay in our darkest moments forever. And then, when we are experiencing those good and wonderful and happy moments, we can have real joy there as well.
It was my goal last year to have an authentic year. To live my life with an air of authenticity and to be who I truly was created to be. This year, it is my goal to have a joy-filled year.
I did the 100 days of happy challenge as a reminder to myself to see the good parts of my life in everything that I did. Because I believe that if you start focusing on the positive things in your life, then you will begin to really notice just how good your life actually is. Positive thoughts beget a positive life.
And so, this is the beginning of my 365 days of joy.