Perhaps if I woke up each morning to a view of Carbis Bay in Cornwall, I would not be looking for ways to increase the joy in my life. Who knows? Although it is very small, I do have a beautiful backyard garden. All of the labor I put into maintaining it is more than worth it. Good things may occasionally come our way, but more often than not they result from the effort we expend and the choices we make. And just maybe, sometimes we face roadblocks, only because we don’t realize we can take them down.
Someone I know has struggled most of her life with anger management. We have all run across one of those people, who allows the pressure to build inside until he or she has an outburst. The recipient of the resulting tirade becomes doubly despised: first, for holding unsavory views or having irritating personality traits, and secondly, for possessing the uncanny and oddly self-destructive ability to deliberately “push the buttons” of the explosive acquaintance or relative.
Everyone experiences anger and needs to release it from time to time. I may have learned a little about how to express it in a temperate way. However, I have had more success with minimizing it, which is more effective than trying to rein it in. Here is a list of 10 things I do.
- Every day, at least once, I count my blessings. The older I get, the more often I do this.
- Monday through Friday I start my day reading an inspirational message from a Christian friend who lives in Tennessee. His daily missives include prayers, trivia, inspiring quotes, humor, and details of his life. I always discover a bit of wisdom or something that makes me laugh. There are books and online sources that provide daily inspirational readings.
- Five years ago, I turned off the television. The news media peddles anger and fear. Find truth by believing what you see in the world with your own eyes. I can stream entertainment, but a good book, a long walk, or meeting with friends is more rewarding. Splurge now and again and go to the theater.
- I smile. When was a young woman, I often wore an angry or unhappy mask. Not anymore. Strangers sense my good mood and the unexpected payback enriches me more than I deserve.
- I try to look my best whenever I leave the house, even if it is just for a 15-minute walk in the neighborhood. You might be surprised at how many people notice and approach me to say so. This happens in parks, parking lots, grocery stores, airports, and on city streets.
- Every morning I do 10 minutes of strenuous exercise. It’s difficult, but I feel great for the rest of the day.
- If I’m home for a meal, I always sit at the dining room table and eat off of pretty dishes. Most evenings, I dine by candlelight. Every day I have fresh fruit and vegetables and a little dark chocolate.
- At least once a week, I have a lunch date with a friend. My friendships are a treasure.
- I treat strangers kindly. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I generally receive more from this than anything I give.
- My mature years allow me to be forthright with positive thoughts or feelings. I like to tell the person I am with how much he or she has impressed me.
The more I clear out bad feelings, the more room I have for good ones. A balance in emotions is inevitable, but anger does not need to be in the equation. My aim is to find joy. One of the blessings of joy is that it is infectious.
The opposite of joy is sorrow. As joy increases, so may sorrow. But sorrow is not destructive. Someone’s sorrow has no power to hurt another human being. It’s one of life’s paradoxes that having known sorrow, we may more fully experience the moments of joy.