Upon return from exile, Nehemiah told the builders of the new wall of Jerusalem that “the joy of the Lord would be their strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) The joy that could only come from eternal God would sustain them through the most dire of circumstances.
The principle of joy in all circumstances still resonates even in the 21st century therefore I am always looking for ways to increase my “joy capacity.” A dear friend knew this and recently invited me to join a community of believers to learn about a life model to help individuals live from the heart Jesus gave us–a heart of joy. Every Monday night we meet to learn how to increase our joy capacity. I now share with you a few nuggets from those sessions so you too can increase your JQ–joy quotient.
- We increase our joy when we are in relationship. I’m not talking about sexual relationship (although that is important) but I mean when we are in fellowship with others. God said it is not “good for man to be alone.” In response, God created woman to be in relationship with Him. (Gen. 2:18) God Himself was in relationship with the first married couple. In relationship, joy comes from knowing that the person you are with is happy to see and be with you. Relationship was key to Christ as we observe His relationship with His disciples and His close circle which included Peter, James, and John.
- We increase joy when we are in community. Social restraints and changing technology have made archaic the idea of a physical community. Remember Mrs. Branch who taught the girls how to play the piano? Or Mr. Johnson’s “show and tell” sessions about his adventures in the Army. Or Mrs. Motts homemade cider and gingerbread at Halloween. Community offered familiarity, authenticity, and validation. Joy was found in acceptance and genuine interest in the individual. Join a community that can offer these benefits. Remember the television sitcom, “Cheers” . At Cheers “everybody knows your name and their all so glad you came. We want to go where everybody knows your name!”
- We increase joy when we reflective on moments of appreciation. Think about a person that you appreciate and a time you felt especially grateful to be with that person. Describe the emotion you felt when you were with them. Describe what your body felt like when that person was present. Doing this exercise regularly will raise your joy level.
I am learning that joy flows from a heart that is authentic and transparent. That joy begins with God, the most important relationship I’m currently in; then follows my biological and spiritual family. Joy emerges when I both give and receive love. How do you increase your joy capacity?