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How to Increase Joy

Your thoughts, NOT your circumstances determine how you feel. To understand how this is applicable to you, first you need to know how I'm defining circumstance. Circumstances are anything in our life that we have no control over. We don’t have control over our children, or our spouses or what your sister in law said to you last week. We can’t control anything that is outside of ourselves. The only thing we can control is our own thoughts and actions. So if we take control over our thoughts and shift our focus to a more intentional focus, then we can increase our capacity for deep joy. Russell M. Nelson has said “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives” This quote has been referenced in several talks given at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints General Conference. Why would church leaders think it so important for us to know that our focus is so important to how we feel? What I believe President Nelson was trying to help us understand is we have control over our focus (or our thoughts) and even in awful circumstances we have access to joy If our focus is in the right direction.

It is also important for us to understand that thoughts are what trigger emotions. Joy is just that, an emotion. A triggered emotion causes us a physical response in our bodies, we then react to that emotion resulting in either a positive or negative outcome for us. If we can be more mindful of the thoughts we think, rather than falling victim to our emotions we begin to feel more in control of the experiences we have.

So if you desire to have more positive emotions, take some time to examine the thoughts you're thinking that may be contributing to your negative experiences and gain some awareness around those thoughts. You may decide to keep them, but you may also decide that they are not serving you and you can choose to think differently.

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