Reasons To Choose Joy Every Day

I Choose Joy, Every Day, Because It Feels Good

For instance, having the perfect amount of milk for your cereal.

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I have to be honest. Life can really suck sometimes. We all have days we wish could've gone better. There are times when we look back and want things to be the same. We come across people and want to have their life because it seems better than our own. Despite all that, I choose joy over living in pain.

When I was in junior high, I was told a hard truth. I can either choose joy or I can choose to keep living in pain. After a while, I finally chose joy. Don't get me wrong. Life hasn't been all sunshine and happy songs since. In fact, it has still been hard. I don't let that block my view of positives.

I could wake up every day and proclaim it is going to be a bad day because of this or that or I can decide it's going to be a great day. I can take hard situations and find the good in them. I honestly believe joy comes out of nowhere. For instance, you're having a bad, and you find out you got an A on your test! It's a great day then, right?

I choose joy because I have found freedom in it. I don't know if that is weird, let alone, makes sense. I find joy in singing a song when it pops into my head. Breaking out into random dances makes me happier than I can explain, and I'm a terrible dancer! I choose joy over anger or disgust because I see pain all over.

I'm not going to lie. It was not a one-day thing. It took a while to choose joy daily. I went through a period when I wondered why anyone would choose it. However, I realize now how much happier and healthier I am because of it. When I encountered something personal and painful, I took the time to be patient. Joy is not something that naturally happens. You can't force yourself to be happy.

I now find joy in things people may never think about. For instance, having the perfect amount of milk for your cereal. Another one would be finding exactly what you need at the last second. Or my personal favorite, seeing a bunch of dogs in one day. Before, I would probably think you're insane if you find joy in milk.

I'm glad I get to see the world from a view not many people do. I hope one day, people all over the world, will find joy in the little things. I hope people no longer experience pain so thick they have no hope. That was me at one point. I challenge you to find joy in something unusual this week! It is beautiful when you realize the little things. Who knows, maybe you'll be able to share that joy with someone else!

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To My Little Brother

Six things I want you to know.
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I am not your mother, but I am your big sister.

I cannot even apologize for it, I am always going to act like your second mom. I am going to keep yelling at you to (please) put down the toilet seat and to clean up the mess you made in the kitchen. It doesn't matter to me how often you say "I am not your mother," because you're my little brother and I'm always going to be the boss.

I never mean it when I tell you to grow up.

I hope that you have taken, and continue to take, full advantage of your childhood. As often as I complain about your maturity level, my wish for you is to put off growing up for as long as possible. The closer I get to real adult life, the more I miss home and all of the worries I didn't have. You shouldn't rush through the years you have left at home, you are doing just fine the way you are.

No, I didn't tell Mom.

All of our secrets will always stay secrets. I may have ratted you out to Mom about being the one to break her new vase, but I hope you know that our brother-sister bond protects all of the private things we share. Please, never forget that I'll always be here to listen to you.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for giving you your first bloody nose, and for laughing at you afterward. I'm sorry for every time I have blown you off for plans with a guy, or to get an extra hour of sleep. I'm sorry for yelling at you to leave me alone and for slamming the door in your face. I'm sorry for all of the times you asked me to play outside that I didn't. I'm sorry for all of my broken promises.

I forgive you.

I forgive you for all of the “little brother" insults you have used. I forgive you for using all of my paints and letting them dry out. I forgive you for embarrassing me in front of every guy I ever brought home. I even forgive you for cutting off that piece of my hair in fourth grade.

I am so proud of you.

It isn't said nearly enough, but I am so proud of you, little brother. I am envious of the passions that you have and the way that you pursue them with no fear! I am excited to see where you go in life (but don't go anywhere too quickly). Keep working hard and doing what you love, no one can fault you for following your heart. I love you so much, and I will always be your biggest supporter and fan!

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Summer = Rest?

Sometimes it feels as if we need a vacation... from our vacation.

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Ah summer: Popsicles and sun burns, mixed with fresh-squeezed lemonade that local kids are pandering to make enough money for Roman candles and Black Cats. The crack of the bat can be heard among the simmering charcoal grills and Troy-bilts humming through the ever-lasting sun. School is out and children are wild. It's a paradise.

Or is it?

But after countless sports camps and tournaments, other camps, vacations, school (?) events, traveling teams, VBS, summer seems to have been sucked fun-free.

Maybe it's Hollywood and Harper Lee's fault for giving us this utopian view of what summer should look and feel like (I'm looking at you Sandlot). But how can we really rest this summer? Because everyone needs some actual rest, even adults.

First thing is do NOT pack your summer full. Say no to some things. Coaches and Families can expect too much and it's okay to say no to them. You have to. There is no time for kids to be kids anymore.

Work can take a backseat. Vacations need to be taken. Families need to reconnect.

And for all my super-scheduled people out there, please PLEASE don't schedule out your vacation. Just enjoy it.

Another bit of advice would be to put away the technology and spend some time outside. When was the last time you tried to catch lightning bugs? Or went for a swim? Or listened to birds on your front porch?

I may sound like I have an old soul, but I really feel like we have lost this connection to the outside world. Summer is all about getting a farmer's tan and getting stung once or twice. I can guarantee you that's some of the best therapy in the world.

Maybe this sounds all over the place. Maybe this sounds like me ranting. And it probably is.

But I'm telling you that this stuff matters. Don't let summer whiz by and you arrive in August more drained that you were in May. Enjoy this time with family and friends.

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