Find the joy in your life

I trust that you had a fantastic Christmas and are preparing to ring in the New Year with a bit of craziness.

For the past two weeks I’ve been suffering from a very painful ruptured disk in my back.  During a season that should be joyful and relaxing I’ve instead been in a depressed frame of mind and plagued with sharp shooting pains down my sciatic nerve that has left me either painfully hobbling around or laying prone on the floor.

It’s also made it difficult to sit in front of the computer for longer than 5 minutes at a time so my level of productivity has dropped significantly.  Things that used to be completed with ease are now painfully slow.

My pain has consumed every waking moment, leaving me struggling to concentrate and with difficulty linking thoughts together.  I’ve felt myself start to sink deeper into depression and wonder if I will ever get well.  I’ve asked questions like “Why me?” and dwell on the past and all the things I “could” have done to avoid the current situation.  If only I hadn’t lifted that carpet cleaner; if only I had been more faithful with my physical therapy exercises.

But dwelling on the past and what could have happened or concentrating on the things I currently am unable to do are not a productive way of thinking, and will not move me forward in a positive light toward both physical and emotional healing.  Instead what happens is I tend to sink even further into depression and into a state of “woe is me.”

So how does one get out of this funk, overcome the pain and rise above the clouds? 

Over the weekend I watched The Bucket List which stars Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  It’s a story of two guys who meet in a hospital cancer ward.  Each has been given less than a year to live.  As their hospital room friendship develops they decide to create a list of all the things they have wanted to do but never done and go out and spend their final days accomplishing their bucket list.

They travel the world checking off items on their bucket list and developing their relationship even further.  At one point the character played by Morgan Freeman gets the news that his cancer has spread.  His odds are not good.  He writes a final letter to his friend who bucket list friend giving him some advice.  In that letter he tells him to “find the joy in your life.”

We all go through seasons in our lives.

Find the joy in your life.  It sounds so simple but yet it’s something that we can easily lose sight of in the midst of troubling and trying times.  We all go through seasons in our lives with some being good and others periods of adjustment.  No matter what the season though it’s critically important to find the joy in our lives if we want to truly be happy.

As I struggle with the pain and lack of mobility I also struggle with remembering the joy in my life.  Things like my kids, my wife and my family and friends.  Those are the obvious sources of joy, but I think there is much more to it than that.  Finding the joy in your life is about living your life in the way and manner in which you really want to live it.  It’s about crossing items off on your “bucket list” each and every day regardless of your circumstances.  It’s putting value on the things that are truly important to you and then putting all your energy toward them.

Life guarantees that you will have setbacks; you will have trying times; you may have health problems.  You will experience loss and pain and suffering.  So how do you overcome it all and rise above the clouds?  Find the joy in your life.

In another scene from the movie both men are sitting on top of one of the great pyramids in Egypt.  The conversation drifts to life and death and Morgan Freeman’s character tells a story Jack Nicholson about an Egyptian god that asks two questions of the dead at the entrance to heaven. 

“Have you found joy in your life?”  and “Has your life brought joy to others?”

How can our lives bring joy to others?  One way is by finding the joy in our own lives and living a life without regrets.  You see when we are living life to the fullest and enjoying every aspect of it we will only want to share that feeling and power with others.  We’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the people around us are feeling the same joy.  It’s a contagious feeling that others who spend any time with you will find hard if not impossible to ignore.  Look for that joy in all the seasons of your life.

I may be in the midst of a trying a troubling season that tests my will and resolution, but I know I have the support of great friends and family and I have an upcoming sabbatical.  Therein lies my joy.

Regardless of what you may be going through right now, don’t forget to find the joy in your life.

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