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The big issue

By Debbie Olujobi

There are so many issues one has to grapple with daily, some more important than others. By issues I refer to the difficulties, problems and even challenges we all have to contend with. They affect our health, finances and general outlook and this past week my mind has been on just one issue that I consider the biggest of all.

The issue of Joy has been very much on the front burner for me. We all describe happiness in moments; some more fleeting than others but always within a time frame. I enjoy being happy but I have found the highs experienced to be as fleeting as vapour; it dissipates. I sometimes find that I dread the post-happy phases we all get after the novelty and adrenalin of the happy vapour vanishes.

Almost like a coming down to earth from a height of bliss. In my view joy on the other hand is a state more permanent, more sedate, more contented; without the adrenalin, anxiety and vapour like combustion of happiness. As I get older I get that Joy really is the issue; living life in balance with all the elements in creation, no matter the span of life. Joy is quality, depth, peace, love and respect for all that is life and all that is living; Joy is the big issue; the only issue that matters.

The real measure of any activity, situation, encounter or relationship is how much they affect our joy. Mastering our emotions is a life long education and even in middle age I would rate myself as elementary. Emotional equilibrium has a lot to do with joy and whether most of us admit it or not we are all emotional adolescents! I could be accused of narrow mindedness and a generalisation but answer me this truthfully. Are your responses to aggravating stimuli (hurtful and annoying people) giving away your joy or are they sedate; rooted in peace? I would put my head on the chopping block first and confess that my responses are unbalanced, angry and even irrational most times.

In the course of writing this article I have almost ruptured a vessel in response to a most annoying and aggravating phone call but it only proves the validity of my point. Emotional equilibrium is a direct reflection of our joy status. Our emotions determine our responses and if we can master them; we can control our reactions. If every aggravation or upset is rendered impotent by a lack of turmoil we can have our joy for longer; where possible, for ever.

If I had a dollar for every time I have been told that I can’t control life and other people, but that I can control or determine my responses, I would have a good amount saved up. A long time ago I wrote about words and their power and I have found that they would be the first robbers of joy (if such a term could be coined). The Bible supports my position and says in Proverbs 12:25 “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad”.

Words have a great influence over our emotions and they can be used to take away our joy or give us so much joy. I need to stop giving words power over me. Its used to control and I am determined not to be controlled by other people’s words. In like manner I will make the effort to use my words moderately and impeccably; they wont be missiles and curses. I won’t put my joy on line for anyone anymore; its necessary to improve the quality, substance and depth of the life I purpose to live.

2013 being my year of purpose has had me on the straight and narrow; my eating habits are improved and exercises are back. To keep myself on the treadmill, I listen to podcasts and this week I had a life changing one from Joel Osteen. It was titled “Don’t give away your joy” and it gave me a perspective that I am determined to implement in my everyday life. I had never thought that Joy was a substance that was a prerequisite for my life till now.

Its all about perspectives and how I choose to let myself be affected by forces outside of my control. Joel says when people ride roughshod over us what they are doing is asking  if they can have our joy! Reacting in anger or getting upset tells them “Yes, you can have my joy”. The sum total of all our ambitions, relationships and endeavours is joy. To enjoy the communion of family and friends; to be at peace with the past and look forward to the future without fear is Joy.

Anxiety is a disease; it feeds on our fears and plagues our emotions mercilessly. The Bible expressly warns us to be anxious for nothing and though that is a tall order, I will start working on it. Worrying never achieved anything apart from high blood pressure and I am going to chill out a lot more. I can’t control what people say to me or about me, I can’t control traffic or the weather but I can begin to school my emotions. I can pray more, meditate and begin to work on developing resilience in my emotions. By my own admission and confession I give out my joy way too easily. My body, soul and spirit need to be aligned physically, emotionally and spiritually. All achievements and endeavours in whatever shape or form mean nothing when there is no joy. Its a fact that only joy is the big issue.


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