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Joy is an exercise to be practiced daily

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Sometimes, we give too much power to neurotic fears. We worry about all of the things that could possibly go wrong and not about what could go right.

Father John
Catoir

We all have bad days. But not all days are bad. For those who live a life devoid of joy, I'd suggest looking at joy as a form of exercise.

First, think of joy as a feeling. Feelings follow thoughts. Faithless thoughts upset your emotions. But uplifting thoughts, those that bring you joy, can help keep you balanced.

You can weaken the power of fear, brought about by years of exercising bad or fearful thoughts, by using quotes or thinking of uplifting things to lift your spirits. Think of it as a form of exercise.

You can save a lot of money on doctor bills, reduce emotional stress, avoid conflict and increase your sense of well-being with joyful thoughts.

I'm not saying that there isn't any real danger in life. For example, if you discover a small electrical fire in the kitchen, the natural response is to be afraid in such cases, and you must deal with it immediately. Call the fire department.

However, there are different kinds of fears, including some that we bring on ourselves. But we have the power to control these feelings by the thoughts or environment that we surround ourselves in.

Sometimes, we give too much power to neurotic fears. We worry about all of the things that could possibly go wrong and not about what could go right.

We have to realize that sometimes when we do this, these feelings, brought about by negative thoughts, are merely nervous symptoms. Such fears must also be dealt with immediately, just as you would with a fire, but in a different way. You can put them out with good and positive thoughts.

Remember that false fears are unnecessary. They can destroy your chances for a happy life. Think things through. For an example, think straight about the nature of true love and true joy. True love is in the will, not the feelings. The same is true for joy.

Like joy, true love requires commitment and the will to bear discomfort. Think about it: Love is something that takes work, which also means service to others, service leads to sacrifice, and sacrifice leads to suffering. The will to bear discomfort is necessary if you want to make love work.

Now, the same is true for joy. It also resides in the will. You can't always depend on feelings for joy. There will be times when you feel no joy at all, but you must decide to remain a joyful person nevertheless.

Stay committed to the idea that God holds you in the palm of his hand. Keep a collection of favorite quotes on hand to remind you of it. Learn to laugh at your fears. Most of all, work hard to make joy a pattern of behavior that you can exercise with a grateful heart.

FATHER CATOIR IS A COLUMNIST WITH THE CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE.

FATHER CATOIR IS AN AUTHOR, FORMER HOST OF “THE CHRISTOPHERS” TV PROGRAM, AND A CATHOLIC PRIEST FOR OVER 55 YEARS.

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