Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

hope she wrote Archive



July 2014

Hope, She Wrote: On Writing A Handwritten Letter

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I’ve written on the art of handwritten notes before, however this week’s column is inspired by some of the sweet snail mail I’ve received so far in 2014 from friends across the globe and even close to home. I hope it inspires you to pick up a pen and paper, and write to someone who’s on your mind today.

P.S. Am I the only who preferred Jane Austen’s Persuasion to Pride and Prejudice?

Who doesn’t love, – upon opening their mailbox, – receiving an envelope with their name handwritten on the front. I’m not referring to bills, or information, I’m talking about receiving a letter or a card from a friend. Doesn’t receiving a handwritten letter of some kind make you smile?

They’ve been around for ages, though as we move toward a more digital society, handwritten letters seem to be on the decline. There are several things in the world that have seen great progress, but ironically there’s one area where we seem to be regressing rather than moving forward – the art of personal communication.

The exception being few, people no longer favour writing lengthy love letters or handwritten thank-you cards. It’s all BBM or texting (or whatever the kids are doing these days). It seems we’ve become such slaves to technology that we’re too lazy to write long-form. (And don’t even get me started on the removal of cursive writing from school curriculum.)

Some of the best examples of handwritten letters can be found in classic literature. Darcy wrote to Elizabeth, a long dissertation narrating everything they’d ever been through together, to prove to her that his intentions were true and that he wasn’t a total jerk (I paraphrase, but you get the point). Perhaps even more powerful and poignant than Pride and Prejudice is the letter that appears in Austen’s Persuasion, when Wentworth professes his love to Anne for a second time (even though she’d brutally rejected him years earlier) in an attempt to win her heart once and for all. (For the record, may it be noted that on both occasions, things worked out in favour of these famous literary couples.)

The power of the handwritten letter isn’t just limited to classic literature, either. In real life, handwritten letters can have incredible impact. Think of the words shared between Kennedy and Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the letters that author Agatha Christie sent to her family and friends during an around-the-world tour that reveal both adventure and heart-ache in the life of a fiercely private woman.

There is something that can be so striking and impactful about the handwritten word. With this in mind, here’s a challenge for this week, should you choose to accept it: Write a letter or a thank-you card to someone you care about. It doesn’t have to be long-winded; just be sincere and be real. Too often I think we take for granted the people who surround and who support us. So why not show some heart?

Here are some tips on how to write a handwritten note:

  1. Decide what you want to say. Thank you? I love you? You’re awesome?

  2. Pick up a pen, paper, and put down your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

  3. To start, keep it brief. Keep your note to the point – don’t overthink it. By keeping it simple, you’ll feel more inspired to write again.

  4. Salutations and closings are key. A safe salutation is your recipient’s name followed by a comma. For a closing, be true to what’s on your heart. Jane Austen closed much of her correspondence with, “Yours affec’y” (yours affectionately).

  5. Put the note in the mail. Seems like a no-brainer, but this one is huge. You can always drop a card off to someone’s house or place of work, but send your note in the mail for optimal impact. There’s a feeling unmatched to that of pulling your mail of your mailbox and seeing a stamped letter addressed to you.

Robertson, Hope. “On Writing a Handwritten Letter.” Minto Express 16 July 2014: 5. Print.



July 2014

Hope, She Wrote: On Living a Balanced Life

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Balance. It’s a difficult thing to achieve. A couple of months ago I wrote about five ways to practice slowness. Part of living more slowly [aka more fully] is learning to live a balanced life.

Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to practice “everything in moderation” – with food, exercise, studying, lifestyle, work, – knowing that taking any one thing to the extreme isn’t healthy. I haven’t always taken their advice, and more recently have learned the hard way that sometimes when you’re living out of balance, life has a way of forcing you to stop and take things into account. There is only so long that you can burn the candle at both ends, so to speak.

Between a career, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends, balance often eludes us. So how do we learn the art of balance? Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful (and am still learning) for living in moderation:

  1. Set challenging [but achievable] goals: Whether personally or professionally, it’s important to set goals for yourself that will help you grow as a person, but that aren’t extreme or unachievable. Habitually working towards a goal will help you stay focused on the task at hand and on the right track. We tend to put our energy into the right things when we have a proper focus.
  2. Don’t be ashamed about having “free” time: I recently read an insightful article in Forbes magazine on this very subject – that ‘free’ time should not mean ‘available’ time. We all need some hours on our schedule that aren’t open for others. Balance can’t be achieved with the bad word “busy”. You shouldn’t feel ashamed about having free time – we all need some time to “just be” in order to stay balanced.
  3. Remember to rest and live your best: In the middle of chasing goals and dreams, don’t forget to rest. The average person needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep to operate at 100 percent. In addition, proper nutrition and exercise are two keys to living a balanced life. Many people practice the 80/20 principle: Eating right and exercising regularly 80 percent of the time, and giving yourself a break for the other 20 percent.

Living in moderation is something learned as we grow through life. Balance doesn’t just happen; like other good habits, balance needs to be practiced everyday, with diligence.

Robertson, Hope. “On Living a Balanced Life.” Minto Express 2 July 2014: 5. Print.



June 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Why Can’t We Just Say What We Really Mean

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Since I’ve been writing my column in The Minto Express, one of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Most of the time, my subject matter comes from conversations with my friends, observing current events, and even personal experience.

The latter is what inspired this week’s topic. For those of you reading who’ve ever closed the door to share your true heart when you had the chance, you’ll understand. It must be human nature; why is that we sometimes inadvertently avoid authenticity when we should just be straight up?

You know how there are those times when you hear the lyrics to a song and you think, “That is exactly what I am thinking but could not put into words”? Or, those times when you’re trying to have a “straight up” conversation, and you totally blow it by discombobulating your words and not making any sense?

It happens to me at least once a week.

It’s only natural that sometimes in life you’ll have a hard time putting into words exactly what you think, and even when you’re actually able to articulate your thoughts; sometimes the words just come out… wrong. Most of us don’t give the tongue a whole lot of thought, but it is such a powerful organ. I like how the book of James describes it: “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

Even the smallest of words can have life-altering impact (either good or bad). That’s the reality of the things we say (or don’t say). And that is something I’ve been thinking about over the past week – the impact of my words and the consequences of my speech; knowing when to speak, and when I should hold my tongue and just sit back and shut up.

There’s this verse in Proverbs that says, “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” This whole notion of “guarding my tongue” is something I’m really trying to learn. And it’s not easy. Here are three suggestions that I’ve found very helpful in my quest to watch my words and – when I do – speak with meaning.

1. Use a mouth guard – think before you speak. Remember that once you’ve put it out there, you can’t take it back. This is something I have to discipline myself about daily. And trust me, it can be a struggle.

2. When in doubt, do without. Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” Enough said.

3. Spend more time listening, and less time talking. Want to cultivate real relationships and show you care? Maybe you’re one of those people who have a tendency to spend time formulating a response whilst another person is talking. Spend more time engaged in actual conversation, truly listening.

We have all said things that we regret. And, if you’re like me, you may have even regretted not saying things that you should have said. I’ll close with this quote: “We do not need an intelligent mind that speaks, but rather a patient heart that listens.” Choose your words wisely, and speak authentically.

Robertson, Hope. “Why Can’t We Just Say What We Really Mean?” Minto Express 18 June 2014. 5, Print.



June 2014

Hope, She Wrote: To Everything There is a Season

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So far, 2014 has been a year of change. Some things planned, some unplanned, and all part of the growing process. Change and I haven’t always been on the best of terms, and my latest column shares some thoughts on how I’m learning to better cope with new life seasons.

I am a creature of habit. While my work and personal schedules are full of variety, I have a daily routine that I like to follow as closely as possible. Get up at the same time each day, eat the same thing for breakfast, get my hair cut the same way each month. While some may call my routine predictable, I prefer to look at it as… controlled spontaneity.

I jest, but the reality is that I’m not always a fan of change. That being said, I do recognize the importance of change, and the necessity of the ‘metamorphosis’. I don’t know why so many of us are so averse to change, when change is the only thing in our lives that is constant. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said “change alone is unchanging.” Change will always be, and the more we fight it, the harder it is. You know the words ‘stress’ and ‘anxiety’? Quite often they’re the bi-products of not effectively dealing with and accepting change.

Although every individual deals with change in his own way, when you approach change with the right attitude, you’ll find handling change a whole lot easier. Here are a few tips on how to deal with change:

  1. Recognize that change is not instant; change is a process and it takes time. This is a big one for me. Ecclesiastes 3 starts out like this: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Some seasons of change will last longer than others (kind of like last winter). When I feel anxiety creeping in about an impending change (whether in my personal or professional life), I make an extra effort to remember that there’s a purpose for every season. Move to accept that change is not just going to automatically happen, like turning the lights on or off. Like some of the most worthwhile things in life, change takes time.
  2. Adjust your attitude. Even if it’s not a change that I think will be ‘good’, I’m learning to adjust my attitude toward change. Rather than dread it, try facing change with anticipation. When you have the right attitude, it can mean the difference between face-palm failure and shining success. Really, it’s a proven fact that positive thinking enhances your ability to channel creativity and work more efficiently.
  3. Don’t take cover; take advantage. You can run, but you can’t hide – change is unavoidable! You and I will never escape it. So, with this in mind, why not make the most of it? Look for the opportunities that come along with change. One technique that I find very helpful is charting change. Look where you are at the commencement of any major life change – birth, death, love, heartbreak, new job, retirement – and chart your journey. Some call it journaling. It doesn’t have to mean a lot of words; even just point form notes can help you focus on the positive aspects of change, and put that attitude of gratitude into action. You’ll be surprised at how being stretched can help build character.

In the end, you can’t control the changes and circumstances that will happen in your life, but you can manage your reaction to it. I love entrepreneur Jim Rohn’s approach to change: “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”

Robertson, Hope. “To Everything There is a Season.” Minto Express 4 June 2014. 5, 7. Print.



May 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Laws for Life

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Last week I had the opportunity to meet a gentleman who is celebrating his 101st birthday (happy birthday, Maurice)! More than a century on this Earth, and I can’t help but think of the time and experiences he’s had in his lifetime – living literally through eras which I’ve only read about in history books.

Mortality is a subject I’ve been thinking about lately. The whole notion that none of us knows how much time we’re allotted or when we’ll be called away from this Earth certainly provides perspective. And with that mindfulness, there’s new importance and value in each day we do have here.

There was this Oprah quote I used to have hanging in my college dorm that said “Live your best life.” Simple, yet profound words. How easy to say, even though the reality is often entirely different. I have days (more frequently than I’d like to admit), where I get discouraged and feel down. Everyone does. It’s normal. The key is to not let your mind linger on that negativity, and also, to stop looking in and start looking out.

Other ways to make the most of right now and the time we do have?

Learn to be comfortable on your own path. Comfortable doesn’t mean lazy. This just means being secure as the individual God made you to be. You are a unique creation, and you should celebrate this. So many people waste precious time copying others or trying to imitate favourite “celebrities” that they miss out on being the coolest person they can be. Accept, and challenge your own self.

Go to bed wiser than when you woke up. This nugget of wisdom has been attributed to several “successful” entrepreneurs, and while it might seem silly to some, it’s such great advice. A strong woman once told me that I should step outside the box and do one thing that I dread or find intimidating – Every. Day. And this is not only über-challenging, but completely sound advice. Think about it – what are the days when you feel most accomplished? These aren’t the days when you drag your feet; the days you’ve made a difference are the days you’ve put yourself out there and done some impactful work.

Grow some courage and go for it. This is waaay easier said and written than it is to actually do. Truth! I struggle with this at least once a week. “What if I say this and someone thinks it’s a crappy idea?” “What if no one understands where I’m coming from?” Develop the courage to not care what others think, and develop the courage to take risks. As entrepreneur Scott Dinsmore says, “Courage does not grow on its own. Just like a muscle, it must be constantly worked out and developed.” See also this quote from living legend surfer dude Laird Hamilton, who says “We are each our own greatest inhibitor. People don’t want to do new things if they’re going to be bad at them or people are going to laugh at them. You have to be willing to subject yourself to failure, to be bad, to fall on your head and do it again, and try stuff that you’ve never done in order to be the best you can be.”

We’re not all guaranteed 101 years of life. There is no better time than now to live!

Robertson, Hope. “Laws for Life.” Minto Express 21 May 2014: 5 Print.



April 2014

Hope, She Wrote: 3 Ways to Develop Discipline

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I’ve come across some really insightful lifestyle books and blogs as of late, but without proper discipline (and good habits), my best intentions for exercising regularly, being more organized, eating right, and living proactively would be for naught.

Developing discipline is a consistent, purposeful effort. In this week’s column, I found myself writing about the d-word, and three ways to develop your own self-discipline.

How are your new year’s resolutions working out? We’re several months into the year, and I’m genuinely curious to hear if you’re still sticking to the goals you committed to on January 1.

Motivation and inspiration. Push and pull. Ever feel so totally excited by an idea that you just have to do it? Or maybe you’ve started out the year with best intentions, determined to make positive changes. We’ve all been there. Follow-up months, weeks, or even mere days later, and chances are you’re feeling less than inspired; you’ve lost your motivation.

And why is that?

Stephen Covey (you may remember his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) once said, “the undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites, and passions.” Inspiration and motivation are not bad – in fact, quite the opposite. However, it’s important to recognize that without discipline, inspiration and motivation aren’t going to get us anywhere.

A few weeks ago I talked about a handful of good habits we should all be practicing that will positively impact our lives, and discipline falls into a similar category – it’s something that needs to be practiced daily. Like, every single day. Day after day. Then repeat. We all require a certain amount of motivation to get up and get started, and the key to success is transforming our inspiration and motivation into discipline.

So how do you make it happen? Here are 3 ways to develop discipline:

  1. Habitually practice a daily routine. You may argue that your schedule doesn’t permit for a daily routine. As someone whose daily grind differs day to day, I speak from experience that even with a crazy schedule, you can still maintain a daily routine. Wake up earlier. Make the time. You can do it if you’re disciplined.
  2. Take heart; have courage! Practicing self-discipline is not for the faint of heart. Discipline is hard; it requires real work, and accountability. As you find the courage to face the fears that challenge you – as you take even the smallest steps – you’ll better realize your potential, boost your self-confidence, and grow even more courage to continue.
  3. Be patient; keep going! I’ve said it before: Patience doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing. Patience is actively waiting, being productive, and making the most of your time. Patience also means continuing on when the going gets tough. The best results come with time. It will be worth it.

Discouragement can be an excellent opportunity to develop discipline. I’ll leave you with a quote from Thomas Edison, American inventor and entrepreneur: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” When you’re feeling discouraged, take it as an opportunity to develop your discipline!

Robertson, Hope. “3 Ways to Develop Discipline.” Minto Express 23 April 2014: 5 Print.



April 2014

Hope, She Wrote: In Praise of Slowness

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Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone! It’s so easy to get caught up in circumstances and day-to-day activities, but it’s so important to — regularly — take time to slow down. I need to remind myself of this almost every day (and it’s a challenge). Here’s my latest column with five ways to practice slowness.

Every year, things seem to move faster than they did the year before. Personally, the past few years of my life have involved so much activity that it’s difficult to remember a time when I moved at a slower pace. This is thanks in part to advancements in technology that allow for us as a society to do so much more. (Theoretically at least.) We live in a society where it’s just not cool to stay in and go to bed early; where clocking over time, taking on excess work and personal responsibility aren’t appreciated – they’re expected.

I recently discovered that I belong to a growing number of young professionals who are “dual-device” – people who carry two cellular devices, one for work and one for personal use. While in some ways it’s an advantage to be continuously connected – I can tell you at any given point in time what the latest news headlines are, how certain stocks are performing, and even see fuel prices at the nearest service station, – being continuously connected is also a growing concern. People everywhere are always plugged-in, and with this expectation that we should be that way, when and how are we supposed to slow down?

I’ve written before about the bad word “busy”, and Carl Honoré (Canadian journalist and guy genius), has written a series of books on the subject of the “slow” revolution. He practices this whole psychology that slowing down allows us to savour more of life – applying the art of slowness to relationships, food, and even medicine. Both of Honoré’s books, In Praise of Slow and The Slow Fix should be mandatory reading if you frequently feel “stressed” or like you never have enough time to finish everything that needs to be done. (Note to self)

With this notion of “slowness” in mind, here are five practices that I find help me slow down and live more fully. Easy enough to write, these are areas that I actively have to keep in check.

  1. Shut down screen time. In the spirit of being always connected, it can be a real struggle to shut down technology in the evenings. Nights when I’m at home, the hours between 6pm and 10pm are crucial for unwinding.
  2. Sleep. I frequently hear “sleep is over-rated” and “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” from people who want to make the most of out life and enjoy every moment. One of the keys to enjoying every moment to its fullest is being properly rested. Do some research on sleep stages for more on this.
  3. Cook. It’s no secret that I love food, and experimenting in the kitchen (or at the ‘Q) is something I’ve really grown fond of the past few years. Ever heard the saying “it tastes better when it’s made with love”? It’s true! When you’re relaxed, the process of preparing a meal somehow makes the food more flavour-filled.
  4. Face-to-face communication. Whether it’s taking a walk with a loved one, or making a “no phones at the table” rule during dinnertime, actually having a conversation with someone is not only meaningful, but can help combat stress as well.
  5. Decompress. I refer to this in #1 as “unwinding”. For me, decompressing involves reading, exercise, writing, or watching PBS (although I limit direct screen time right before bed).

I’ll leave you with a quote from Carl Honoré: “Much better to do fewer things and have time to make the most of them.” What are you doing in your life to promote the practice of more fulfilled living?

Robertson, Hope. “In Praise of Slowness.” Minto Express 9 April 2014: 5. Print.



April 2014

Hope, She Wrote: 10 Ways to Encourage Others

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We don’t always realize the impact that our words and actions can have on the lives of those around us. Something I’m learning every day is how my words and actions can affect those around me (even if it’s not intentional). It’s so important to speak encouraging words and share encouraging gestures. Last week in my column for The Minto Express, I shared 10 ways to encourage others. Easy and practical, these are suggestions I’m challenging myself to practice more diligently.

The ‘E’ Word

You know those people in your life with whom you absolutely love spending time? What draws you to them? Consider all the people you’ve encountered, both past and present, who have made an impact on your life. Our biggest influencers are individuals who challenge us and move us to become better people; individuals who encourage.

I love the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition for the word encourage: “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope.” The first known use of the word was in the 15th century, the Middle English encoragen, from the Anglo-French encourager, ‘en’ being French for ‘in’ + courage (‘cor’ is Latin for ‘heart’).

Each of us has the potential to become a person who encourages. That’s an incredible ability! Think about how many people you see each day. Some of them you may know personally, some of them you may see today but never again in your life. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we each attempted to encourage every person with whom we had a personal encounter? That’s a powerful thought.

Providing encouragement can be easy; it doesn’t require some grand gesture. Here are ten ways we can all incorporate a little ‘in’ courage into the lives of others:

  1. Be sincere – Authenticity is everything.
  2. Be specific – This goes for all of the points below. Encouragement doesn’t work when it’s generic. You’ve got to be personal.
  3. Listen – Encouraging another isn’t about providing advice, in fact, sometimes it’s just the opposite. Sometimes what a discouraged, weary soul needs is an open ear.
  4. Smile – Try putting it into practice every day. While thinking, or listening to another, we can subconsciously take on a more serious expression. Remember to smile!
  5. Give recognition – When someone does something outstanding that you think is awesome, recognize it!
  6. Give recognition to an everyday event – Don’t wait until something huge happens to encourage someone. Start with their everyday life and provide a word of affirmation. It will work wonders.
  7. Show Gratitude – We should all make it a daily practice to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. [Try combining numbers 4 and 7 and see how well it works.]
  8. Share Something – Have you been thinking about or praying for someone? Tell them about it! Give them a call, write them a quick note, send them a text. Knowing that you’ve got others who believe in you can make all the difference in the world.
  9. Offer practical help – Someone you know is going through a trying time. Ask them specifically if there’s an area in which you can assist them. [see also number 2. Instead of saying, “Do you need anything?” why not say “Could I help you by ___?”]
  10. Practice the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Knowing the difference that encouragement has made in your own life, why not spread some of that courage to the hearts of others!
Robertson, Hope. “The ‘E’ Word.” Minto Express 26 March 2014: 5. Print.



March 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Some Habits Are Actually Good

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When we talk about habits, we tend to talk about bad habits. That being said, there are some really good habits we should all get in to and start practicing. I talk about five good habits in my Minto Express column this week.

Something I’m thankful for is having a core set of friends who share the same foundational beliefs, who challenge and exhort each other to live fully and count life’s blessings. Recently, some of us have been making a more conscious effort to really jumpstart our joy. And it’s working a little bit like exercise: When you have an accountability partner (or partners) who are into making effective, positive life changes, the changes are that much easier – and sometimes even fun – to implement.

Here are some habits that we should all develop and green light to positively impact our lives:

  1. Be yourself. Judy Garland once said something along the lines of always being your best self, otherwise you’ll end up being a second-rate version of someone else, and you’ll never amount to your most truly awesome potential. I’m totally paraphrasing, but this is huge – not trying to be different on purpose, just being you.
  2. Accept failures. Very difficult to put into practice. If I counted all the times I’ve failed or made a mistake… well, let’s not go there. The point is, accept your failures, correct your actions, and continue to try. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Also, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
  3. Compete with yourself, not with others. The game of comparison and covetousness is a dangerous one. Learning to compete with myself and trying to be my best self every day is one way to avoid this. What’s the old adage, “The grass isn’t greener on the other side; it’s greenest where you water it.” So start watering.
  4. Be real. A friend of mine shared this awesome calendar entry with me last week, which referred to speaking the truth in love. Wow. There are some difficult topics to discuss in this life, and addressing them with authenticity is key. Sure, authenticity can be arduous (and sometimes even awkward), but a few minutes of awkwardness is better than a lifetime of avoidance (or some other equally lame alternative)
  5. Start living. Take it from the 14th Dalai Lama: “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday, and the other is called tomorrow. So today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live.” BAM. That about sums it up. Don’t put off to the morrow what you can do today. Sure, there are seasons when we have to practice patience, but always remember: Patience and procrastination are entirely different.

Wondering how to develop these positive habits and incorporate them into your life? One small step at a time, every day. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.

Robertson, Hope. “Some Habits Are Actually Good.” Minto Express 12 March 2014: 5. Print.



March 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Jumpstart Your Joy

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Choose Joy quote by Henri Nouwen

Having a consistently positive attitude can be incredibly difficult, especially when it’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day circumstances. In my latest column for The Minto Express, I discuss ways to jumpstart your joy, and get on the road to a more consistent, joyful heart attitude.

The winter can be a difficult time, with the shorter days, grey skies, and cold weather. (Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, people!) I don’t think I’m alone when I say that there are definitely days when hibernation seems like it would’ve been a good idea.

So what can you do to jumpstart your joy? The great thing about joy is that it’s a constant, and a deliberate choice you get to make each day: Joy is not dependent on your present circumstances or your mood, because true joy comes from within. Joy is something that starts with your heart attitude.

You might think that jumpstarting your joy could be the happiness you experience when you buy a new pair of boots, or that feeling you get when you score some cute clothes at an incredible half-off sale at your favourite store, but here’s something many don’t often think of: Joy and happiness are two entirely different things.

Happiness by definition is a state of well-being or a pleasurable or satisfying experience. Joy (which comes from the word “rejoice”) is to be glad and content. Happiness is always the result of a circumstance or something happening around you, whereas joy is the consistent, content heart attitude that is unaffected by your surrounding circumstances or happenings.

For example, if you have a really bad day at work, or you get a mustard stain on your favourite white skinny jeans (hey, it happens), or you receive disappointing news – you wouldn’t be happy, right? But, throughout these circumstances, you can still choose joy. It doesn’t mean that you walk around with a dopey smile on your face all the time, it just means that you have perspective, and that your source of contentment comes from inside, not from outside.

Some simple ways to jumpstart your joy:

  • make a list of the things that you’re thankful for in life
  •  forgive someone who’s wronged you
  • volunteer with an organization that helps others
  • provide for another’s need
  • listen to a friend
  • pray

Do you see a theme with jumpstarting your joy? One of the key components of joy is putting others first. When I was younger, there was this song we used to sing in Sunday School, called, “JOY” and it was an acronym for “Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third” And that’s totally true. When you stop looking in, and you start looking up and out (by putting others first), the results are powerful and can have major impact on your life.

There’s a quote by the writer Henri J.M. Nouwen that gives some pretty sound advice: “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Choose joy!

Robertson, Hope. “Jumpstart Your Joy.” Minto Express 26 February 2014: 5. Print.