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How Can I Feel Good When So Much Around Me is Bad?

positive thinking in stressful times

This morning I happened to run across an article I wrote in 2004 and was inspired by my own words.  Like a letter in a bottle, my own wisdom reached through time and space at just the right moment. It gave me an idea I’ll share with you at the end of the article which I’m reprinting here, with some minor revisions. Enjoy!

Not so long ago, I hit one of those speed bumps in life. Business was slow, my relationships were unfulfilling and the headlines had become bleak. Feeling depressed and blue, I kept waiting for a change. I was wanting life to become better, happier, brighter, but it didn’t. In desperation I turned within for guidance and asked, “How can I find more joy in life?”

I could almost hear my guides chuckling at my question. Then they said, as angels always do, “Fear not for we bring you tidings of great joy!” Gently they reminded me to stop waiting for someone or something to bring me joy. I scrambled for pen and paper and began writing the words that were streaming into my mind.

“Remember the word is ‘En-joy!’ We suggest you begin finding ways to put joy into life rather than waiting to get joy out of life. Joy is not something to passively wait for. Joy is something you create with intention. It is an action. The choice is yours. Remember that to ‘Re-joice’ means choosing to return to joy again and again, no matter what.”


It was true.  I’d been waiting passively for joy to just happen so I could “follow my joy.” I began to experiment with “en-joying” my life. It wasn’t always easy, and I had to start with baby steps. As I took my daily walk, I appreciated the beauty of the flowers rather than focusing on my problems. I began to notice there were lots of things I could enjoy if I only looked for them. 

Slowly my life began to improve. My relationships became warmer and I began to heal some very old family issues. My practice began to grow and bloom with new opportunities and increased abundance. Though the headlines continued to be disappointing, I chose to enjoy what was going right in the world, rather than despairing over what was not. I learned that joy is an active heart energy I can choose to send to anyone or any situation. Even to myself. I didn’t need to wait for a reason.

You may ask “How can I feel good when so much around me is bad?” As Wayne Dyer notes, “no amount of your feeling bad has ever helped one person on this planet.”

In fact there’s a lot of evidence you can more effectively help others if you keep your heart connected to joy. Consider the Dalai Lama who has been in exile from his beloved Tibet for most of his life, yet he is always smiling, a beacon of compassion. Mother Teresa spent her life serving the poor and terminally ill -people in the most hopeless of circumstances – yet she remained bouyant and cheerful. Mattie Stepanek lived most of his 13 years in a wheelchair, yet he was a peacemaker and poet whose joyful message of “finding your heartsong” inspired millions.

Of course, I often forget and find myself indulging in the old pattern. It takes practice to rejoice!

So here’s my invitation: Will you join me in an experiment? It’s very simple: Are you willing to give yourself permission to begin practicing Unreasonable Joy in as many moments and circumstances as possible? Instead of “following your joy,” let’s find out what happens when you lead with it. I would love to hear about your results.

For more info about Mattie Stepanek: http://www.mattieonline.com/

Photo Credit

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • “begin finding ways to put joy into life rather than waiting to get joy out of life. Joy is not something to passively wait for. Joy is something you create with intention. It is an action. The choice is yours.”
    I needed to hear this today, thank you 🙂
    .-= Cristina´s last blog ..Living in the jungle =-.

    • Linda Gabriel

      Thanks for stopping by Cristina!

  • Linda what a great headline and question. And so well answered in response. I hadn’t viewed it this way and it’s a refreshing and appealing approach. Your last paragraph with true lives is inspired and “finding your heartsong” a marvellous call to action. So I shall, with a spring in my step and joy in my heart. Thank you, bless you for a post that’s a good as a hug!
    .-= John Sherry´s last blog ..What To Do If You’re Having A Bad Day =-.

    • Linda Gabriel

      Thanks John! And right back at you… your article on “What to Do if You’re Having a Bad Day” fits so well with this theme. I really appreciate the messages your are contributing to the blogosphere.

  • Linda, what a fabulous idea. To lead with joy instead of waiting for it. Brilliant! I will gladly participate in this experiment with you. I love this idea – and it’s just what I needed to read today. I will be unreasonably joyful.
    .-= Angela Artemis´s last blog ..Constant Craving- The Mystical Experience =-.

  • Linda,

    This is a very helpful article. We can create joyful experiences in our life and be purposeful to seek happiness. If we don’t feel in control of life we will never take the steps necessary to better our situation. We must gain self-awareness and realize that we wouldn’t appreciate a sunny day without a cloudy one, it will be hard work, but in the end, worth it.

  • Blaed

    linda, you totally fracking ROCK, dood. seriously. i simply LOVE your blog, and this, per usual, is another fantastic entry. thank you! … and YES — i hereby say “yes” to and otherwise enthusiastically take up the challenge to consciously en-joy and re-joy-ce my life — to actively participate in unreasonable, unbridled joy! for this, truly, is along the pathway to planetary healing. xoxo!

    • Linda Gabriel

      Blaed! Dood! What a joy it is to see your comment. (Big smiles.) Thank you SO much for the enthusiastic feedback. You’ve got it: from the personal to the planetary, that’s the true path of joy.

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