By now, our college-aged young adults have settled into their routines and (hopefully) so have we. Our families have adjusted to the new household dynamic, whether the younger ones are back in school or we're newly empty nesting. But, perhaps we still miss our college kids. It can be difficult to feel "connected" to our college-aged young adults as the days pass... and we can sometimes feel a bit "left behind." If that's the case, it's time to embrace this new season of life wholeheartedly and practice the art of becoming JOY-FILLED! In a few short weeks, with a little help from Our Lord, our hearts can move from sadness to a new joyful reality. Here's how:
10 Weeks to Joy
Week 1] I will humble myself—Joy is a gift and can’t be manufactured. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 1832) I open my heart to acknowledge my weaknesses and neediness and ask You, Lord, for the gift of Joy.
Week 2] I make a covenant with You, Lord. I commit wholeheartedly to living more joyfully by growing in knowledge and love of you by being faithful to ten to fifteen minutes of morning prayer, even on weekends and during vacations.
Week 3] I will stop complaining…out loud. It’s impossible to change a habit of negative thought overnight but I will begin by catching the ones that escape through my lips. I will listen to myself and resolve to silence criticism, pessimistic comments, or little or big complaints. Instead, I will exchange those thoughts for “praise You, Lord, in all circumstances.” It may not feel natural at first, but that’s OK. With Your grace, I will succeed in changing my negative thought patterns.
Week 4] I will find more time for silence by turning off the radio in the car…taking the dog for a walk alone…deleting social media apps. I will use these newfound moments to seek Your presence and appreciate my surroundings.
Week 5] I will be fully present to the other. I will give eye contact, affirmation and full attention to the person in front of me at each moment of my day. I will not look to see who else is around, anticipate my next comment, or wish their presence away.
Week 6] I will do one thing at a time. When I’m driving, I’ll ignore the cellphone. When I’m eating, I won’t read the paper. I will focus on the task at hand, do my best work, and finish it before I move on to the next thing.
Week 7] I will cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Not everyone is born an optimist, but everyone has the capacity to change thought patterns, so I will fill my mind with gratitude for the people in my life, with appreciation for my creature comforts, with love of nature. I will celebrate the blessings in life! I will savor the glass of wine, steep in the bubble bath, rejoice with others in their accomplishments, and relish my own. I will live the virtue of Eutrapelia-- a playfulness that refreshes the soul.… I thank You, God, for these things. I will write them down in a gratitude journal.
Week 8] I will examine my friendships. Am I a good friend? Loyal, cheerful, steadfast? I resolve to improve wherever necessary. Do I have good friends? “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm”(Proverbs 13:20). I will pray, asking You for good friends and to be a better friend.
Week 9] I will observe and reflect. With more silence in my life and a regular habit of prayer, I am starting to recognize patterns in my behavior. I will appreciate my God-given talents. This is not a lack of humility: I’m practicing humility by recognizing in truth who I am before You, Lord. I will take my weaknesses and faults to You in the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be healed and strengthened.
Week 10] I will look for opportunities to share my joy with others, especially those less fortunate. Present me, Lord, with the “poor” You wish for me to serve…the poor in temporal gifts and those poor in spirit.
May the Lord bless us as we pursue a deep and profound joy in Him!