Today I have the privilege of being part of a week-long blog hop celebrating Choose Joy by Kay Warren.
This hop gives readers the chance to read six select passages from this wonderful book. If you'd like to go back and read each of them (I am the last one for the week) here are the links:
6/13- post from Suzanne Woods Fisher
6/14- post from Renee Swope
6/15- post from Holley Gerth
6/16 post from Kayla Aimee
I was so excited when I was contacted and asked to read this book.I knew from the title alone that this book would resonate with me. I choose to live my life happiness and joy. I wasn't always that way…this is a conscientious decision I came to a few years back. And I have been so much happier and so much more fulfilled since I decided on this mindset. Don't get me wrong…sometimes it is a struggle. It's not always easy to choose joy. But it is something I really believe and something I want to demonstrate for my girls.
The passage I chose to share is called Avoid Small Potatoes.
There are so many small things that I could choose to focus on. So many little things that could get me down. ESPECIALLY during deployments. Some days it seems like one little thing after another after another. And the "old me"? The old me was exhausted by these things. The old me complained and inwardly whined.The old me would have thrown a pity party.
Four children and eight deployments later? It's cliche…but i really DON'T sweat the small stuff. I laugh at the small stuff. And move on. I choose not to let it ruin my happiness.
I am going to share the passage from Kay's book now. But I have to tell you…this book is wonderful. Here is how to order it if you are interested.
Thanks so much to Kay and Baker Publishing for allowing me to be part of this hop!
Joy Conservation: Avoid Small Potatoes
It’s not just the big things that rob us of joy but the hundreds of small irritations, minor disappointments, and pesky misunderstandings that pile up over the course of a day and manage to sour our mood.
Even if we learn how to get a good handle on worry, perfectionism, cynicism, grace, forgiveness, and empathy, there are still countless ways for joy to disappear if we’re not vigilant about our behavioral responses, our choices.
For instance, my desk at work faces a ground-floor window that looks out into the parking lot for the small office complex in which my office is located. Each building has a certain number of parking spaces allotted to it based on the square footage of the building. The building next to mine houses a busy medical practice, and the employees have evidently been instructed not to park near their building so that patients can park closer to their entrance. But instead of parking around the corner, where there are more spaces, their employees park in the spaces in front of my building! And since my window is only a few yards away from the parking lot, I have witnessed them parking in our spaces—including the ones directly in front of my door—every day for years.
It didn’t really bother me much until one day as I was getting into my car, one of their employees began to complain to me about how every once in a while people attending a meeting at my office park in THEIR parking places! Being conscious of my role as a representative of Jesus Christ, I held my tongue and politely said, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience; I’ll remind them to carpool if possible.”
Outwardly, I was calm, kind, and serene. But inwardly, I was a seething mass of anger and bitterness, and I badly wanted to heap sarcastic comments on this woman with her unjust complaints. I had to bite my tongue really hard to keep from saying, “Oh, I get it. It’s okay for your employees to park in MY spaces every single day of the week, but you get your nose all out of joint when every once in a while someone coming to my office parks in one of YOUR spots? Isn’t that just a teensy bit hypocritical?”
From that moment, I became maddeningly aware of the unfairness of the parking situation that unfolded every day right in front of my eyes! Watching the next-door office’s employees park in my spaces began to get under my skin and cause my blood pressure to rise. What I used to not even notice became all I could see. Each morning I would grumble and fume and mutter to myself, and occasionally I would bring in my employees to commiserate with me as we watched their flagrantly disrespectful and unfair behavior.
I am embarrassed to admit how much time and emotional energy I gave to this small problem before I finally gave myself a good talking to. I reminded myself that, in the overall scheme of life, whether these people observed proper parking etiquette or not was simply not that important, and it absolutely wasn’t worth the frustration, anger, bitterness, and loss of joy I was allowing myself to experience. Since I couldn’t control THEM, I had to control ME. I still can’t always manage happy feelings toward my work neighbors, so my strategy for joy conservation is simple: I just lower the blinds!
That way I’m not distracted by a situation that threatens to rob me of much-needed joy. I know it sounds stupidly childish and immature—and it is. And some of you are disgusted or turned off by my inability to handle such a “small-potatoes” situation in a more mature manner. This is exactly the kind of incident that pundits have in mind when they tell us “not to sweat the small stuff.”
But I’ll bet if you were completely honest, you’d have to admit that you, too, have some “small-stuff” annoyances that rob you of joy over and over again. We end up judging each other about small stuff because what sends me up the wall might not faze you, and what drives you crazy might not bother me at all. But we all have our hot buttons—joy thieves—that cause us to focus on things that just don’t matter and erode our sense of joy.
Would you be willing to take an inside look right now at your own daily life and see if there are any pesky joy thieves lurking around? Once you’ve identified the small ways that joy evaporates in your life, the BIG question is, what are you willing to do about it? As I’ve said throughout the book, ultimately, whether you experience joy or not is up to you. It comes down to what you choose to DO in every situation.