Choosing Joy

How can you be more joyful?
Cleanliness is Franklin’s virtue for this chapter. Cleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation. I would add to Franklin’s list that your state of mind is truly a place you want to keep clean every day. Develop the habit of continual cleanliness of joy in the mind.
Joy! Happiness, Giddiness, Gladness, Pleasure, Contentment, Cheerfulness, Delight, or Jubilation.
Call it what you want. Happiness isn’t something attained. It isn’t something achieved. It is a choice. Yep. You get to choose whether you are happy or angry. When someone cuts you off in traffic, you can say “&% YOU!” or “Bless YOU!”
Unfortunately, I have usually said “&% YOU!” frequently while driving all the cars I have owned over the years.
There are moments I am not proud of: a few choice words out the window, a choice finger to follow or stand alone, or just a full rant to myself and the windshield. Such behaviors made me stressed, irritated, and irritating.
It wasn’t a life-changing moment, but again, a daily habit, that made me able to drive in peace and joy. I hated being stressed, hurried, frustrated, and annoyed at the people in and out of my vehicle. Instead, I chose to be peaceful with people. I told myself, Maybe he is having an emotionally straining day. Maybe her mom just died. Or just maybe, he hasn’t learned that he can choose how to react to all the circumstances around him.

Peopling is hard.
People will fail you, frustrate you, and very few will forgive you. You have to be the greater one—the first to overcome, to be peaceful, and to forgive.
Joy did not come easily for me. I can only blame me. But as I grew up, I blamed my upbringing. I was raised in a heavily German-influenced community. Lots of unexpressed love made its way into cynical and sarcastic comments. Many farmers were not always happy about the weather, the prices, the basketball game outcome, or the school board choices. And they were always ready to express their opinions. Happiness was an occasion occurrence—on birthdays, Christmas and other holidays, Sunday dinners, and oh, most food occasions. But usually there was always some undertone of something not being right. Some little complaint. Sometimes, the habits we have don’t come from our daily tics, but those we are around daily. Who influences you? Who are you influencing?
So now that I have reached adulthood, I have to re-teach myself to be joyful in all things, in all circumstances.

Thankful for WATER.
It’s truly the simple things that bring me joy. I was sitting during my quiet time when I thought of an overused commodity that we take for granted: running water. I thought about our well drilling that we watched before moving out to our current land. Do you realize the logistics that go into running water? And even running water in cities? Just one home overwhelms me with the ease in which we use it compared to the work that was required to obtain it. The pump that runs with electricity, another amazing invention, gets the water to the house through the pipe that was buried under the earth. Once it is in the house, it is controlled with valves that direct the water to the right places. Turn on the kitchen valve, otherwise known as the faucet, and you have water at the kitchen sink. Open the control for the toilet, also known as the handle, and the toilet flushes. Sit and think about the details of it all. It really will amaze you. I am thankful for running water and flushing toilets! When I think my life is in the toilet, I pause and think about those details, and thank God for the men and women who developed those systems decades ago.
Before the days of indoor plumbing were the days of outdoor shanties. My dad was always raised with indoor plumbing, but my mom remembers the conversion to indoor plumbing when she was about eighteen and graduating from high school. When I was a toddler, she took me to the outdoor biffy because the indoor one was busy and I had to go NOW. I was crying and afraid to go into the outhouse. Afraid that I was going to fall into the deep black hole, and afraid of the painful smell that lingered morning and night from that hut. With all my crying, fretting, and worrying, it took my mom about ten minutes to coax me to go pee. Once I finally did my job, she lifted me from the seat. I pulled up my pants and then turned around. Puzzled, I calmly asked, “Where’s the flusher?”

Be joyful in all things.
In The Prairie Winnows Out Its Own, Paula M. Nelson refers to the painstaking effort taken by the pioneers who settled South Dakota and the very land where I now live. She states:
Washing clothes was especially difficult. By the 1920s gasoline engine-powered washers were available, but they were difficult to start. One woman occasionally exerted three hours of vigorous effort before hers would fire. By that time, the water she had heated was cold, and she had to reheat it and go through the process again.… Women used washboards well into the thirties.
I am thankful for running water and machines! What are you thankful for? What choices can you make to enjoy each moment?

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