Choose Joy

As I was reading an article in the Huffington Post, “One of the 25 Facts You Should Know (but probably don’t) About Christianity,” (1) I was surprised to read one of the facts I did not know.

The original seventh deadly sin was sadness – not sloth.

This article got me to thinking about why sadness might have been considered a sin.  How do we view sadness today and how does it affect our well-being?

To many people it is something that is OK; in some cases more than OK.  Being sad is usually about the loss of, or disappointment in, something.  Sadness can be easily justified and is often  indulged. Then, when friends or family members show us compassion, we feel better. But, I don’t think, in recent times, anyone ever considered it a “deadly” sin.

If sadness was once considered a deadly sin, it stands to reason, the opposite would be true of joy.  If we continuously indulge in being joyful, it must lead to living life and loving it.  I don’t know about you, but I choose joy/life.

Many articles, blogs, and self-help books have been written about how important it is to be happy and research is bringing to light every day the benefits of joy.  “Laughter is the best medicine,” is a common phrase and was, for more than eight decades, the title of a much loved joke, cartoon, and funny story section in Readers’ Digest.

I found the following quote by typing in the search bar the words “laughter and medicine.”  “With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.”  (2)

How do we maintain joy when we are facing hard times or going through a challenging situation?

For me, it needs to be more than just making ourselves laugh or putting on a “happy” face.  It has to be a heartfelt desire to let go of the problem and look to God for solace, mercy and finally, joy. At a most sorrowful time, before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples:  “…your joy no man taketh from you.” (3) This passage reminds me, as a follower of Jesus, that I need to be sure never to let any “man” or human circumstance rob me of my joy.

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, a woman who knew a lot about human sorrow, puts it this way in her seminal work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love.” (4) (Eddy used Truth and Love, capitalized, as synonyms for God.)  Since happiness is spiritual – of God – it is a quality that comes from within not something we get from others or outside situations.

A favorite hymn is often the first thing that comes to thought when I sense sadness coming on.

“I walk with Love along the way

And O, it is holy day;

No more I suffer cruel fear,

I feel God’s presence with me here;

The joy that none can take away

Is mine; I walk with Love today.” (5)

I have found these ideas to be practical in my life in helping me pray my way through sad situations and not give up until I am no longer “down in the dumps.”  I have also helped my children learn to deal with sadness in the same way.  It has produced more than just a surface “happy face.”

1)  Huffington Post, Religion Brief, April 17, 2012, George Courtauld

2)  healthguide.org  Paul E. McGhee, PhD http://www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm

3)  John 16:22

4)  Christian Science textbook, page  57:18

5)  Christian Science Hymnal, page 139

Photo downloaded from flickr.com by AlicePopkorn

Kate is a Christian Science practitioner and the legislative, media, and public contact for Christian Science in Maryland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2 Comments

  1. Why not be happy, it sure beats the alternative. Some people try to live in the past, when they thought they were happy. It’s great to remember special times but we should realize that today is the best day and tomorrow is even better.

  2. Thank you for commenting. What you have said is absolutely true. Let’s live in the joyful NOW!