At the early age of 12 I started working as a paper boy on the early morning route every day from 5-5:30 a.m. I either walked or rode my bike carrying the papers in bags that straddled my shoulders, with the papers stuffed in the front and back of my body for deliveries on the porches of the subscribers.
Was I happy having to get up early and ride my bike to the ‘paper stop’ where I would collect the papers in all elements and varying temperatures of the weather each and every day? Heaven’s NO! So if it didn’t make me happy, then how did I continue to do this for several years until I graduated high school?
I learned that if I wanted to be happy with this work and enjoy it at times, I had to take the focus off of myself and focus on my subscriber. I learned very quickly that GIVING the best service I could and satisfying the subscriber actually made me happy and actually sometimes feel real ‘joy’ when I would go the extra-mile to place the paper when it was raining or snowing right next to the screen door, knowing that all the subscriber had to do was crack open the door, bend down and take the paper without getting cold or wet. 😊
This is when I learned the difference between being happy and feeling joy. Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek explains “…happiness is an emotion in which we ‘experience feelings ranging from contentment and satisfaction to bliss and intense pleasure,’ whereas joy ‘is a stronger, less common feeling than happiness.” We experience joy when we achieve selflessness to the point of personal sacrifice.
Experiencing ‘selflessness’ is the art of ‘Giving.’ Because of this season of the year many of us turn our thoughts outward to think of what we might give to someone else in terms of buying a ‘gift’ or doing something kind for someone else. To feel real joy this season, I suggest thinking of something that you can do that is a ‘personal sacrifice’. For many of us a real ‘personal sacrifice’ comes from the ‘giving’ of our time and talents for the benefit of someone in need. Here are a few ideas that we can think about not only at this time of year but throughout the year in our efforts to make our lives and others more joyful as we think about GIVING:
- If health permits—giving blood is always something someone will benefit from
- Visiting nursing homes and going in and asking if there is someone who would enjoy a visit
- Helping someone that might need help putting up or putting away decorations
- Finding a charity that you might like and giving service and/or donating to
- Going out of your way to pick up trash that may be an eyesore
- Putting your neighbors trash cans away if you know they’re gone and may not be back until end of day.
- Picking up poop that didn’t come from your dog, rather than complaining about how rude it is not to pick up your dog’s poop.
- Welcome a new neighbor by taking over a goodie bag and introducing yourself
- Spending time with a friend that might need to talk and/or visit
- Putting gas in an elderly persons car that can’t do it themselves
- Smile at others
- Help someone move
The list could go on and on and is limitless. If all our efforts are focused on trying to be happy—we may be missing the point. But if our purpose is to have joy in our lives then we have committed to one another in a way that seeks something better than simple self-satisfaction.
So put yourself out there and GIVE of yourself or do something good for someone else—and feel what happens. This is JOY. And once you feel it, you will know hope, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.