What Does It Mean to Choose Joy?

What does it mean to choose joy? Is it a frivolous thing to say when there is so much suffering in the world? Can you really choose joy?

I think you can.

Yes, the world is filled with ugliness and unhappiness. Cruelty. Violence. Bigotry. Hate. Indifference. It's also filled with wonder and beauty and joy. With the magic of the natural world and the delights of love and personal connections.

watercolor, botanical watercolor, violas, spring, garden, joy, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The simplest of moments -- a tinge of pink in the evening sky, the sip of a perfect cup of coffee, the laughter of a friend, the warm lump of a purring cat, the dusty tang in the air when it first starts to rain -- can fill us with happiness, even when what might be happening around us isn't joyful.

When I choose joy I'm not denying the existence of the world's horrors, instead I'm redirecting my focus to those things which are beautiful and good.

gardening, me mades, me made may, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Our lives are a mix of both good and bad. We're faced with challenges and celebrations. Sometimes our days are dull, tedious, annoying. If I'm honest, I am crabby and anxious and frustrated more often than I would like.

At those times I have to remind myself that I am in control, not of my situation or what happens to me, but of what I think and how I react.

We live our lives one moment at a time. We can only ever exist in this moment. Make an effort to be present. Be open. Aware. It's amazing the shift that happens when you do.

Choosing joy is a personal intention. A practice. It takes work. Writing Joy and Gratitude Lists helps. So does pausing to take a few deep breaths. Still your mind of wandering thoughts and feel the sensations in your body. Look and listen.

You choose joy when you choose how to spend your time and with whom to spend it.

adopt don't shop, black and white cats, cat snuggles, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

You choose joy by how you choose to decorate your home. You choose joy when you decide what to wear when you get dressed in the morning.

I think that choosing joy can be wider, too. It can radiate out like ripples in a pond. Choose joy in how you interact with other people. Be kind. Spread love. Add your own touch of beauty to the world.

watercolor, butterfly, painting, joy, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Share joy, even if it's just smiling at a stranger or giving a compliment to the person at the post office or grocery store checkout.

Choosing joy is never frivolous. The world always needs more of it. The world always needs more beauty and love and kindness, too.

Here's a bit of inspiration:

Now get out there and make the world a more joyful place!


  1. Your joy is contagious Anne. I am ready to pass it on! :)

    1. Thanks so much, Simone! Hearing that makes me so happy! :)

  2. Anne,
    I always love your JOY posts. I had a crabby person Friday during my Meals on Wheels route. It is a shock at how one person can change your day. Sadly for me, I began to get crabby too. I felt used, why do I do this meals on wheel delivery only to be yelled at about the time I deliver the meal, something I have NO control over. I had to fight back. I did win back JOY instead of heading down the crabby attitude path. I am thankful for that. Life is too short to be so crabby. I feel sad for those who cannot see that.

    1. Thank you, Carla. I'm glad you were able to shake the crabbiness. It's hard when someone else tries to bring you down. Sometimes it's easy to shake off, and sometimes it's not. You are so right that life is too short to be crabby. :)

      Hugs to you, my friend!


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