Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Year of Joy in Action

So, how am I doing on my "Year of Joy" resolution? Well...

Pretty well, if I say so myself. This has been amazing for me thus far. I have tried very hard to refocus my energy and attention towards the positive and productive. I've been able to understand more, have more fun, and feel the spirit more strongly.

This doesn't mean that it's been easy. It's been anything but easy. We got some tough news regarding personal matters. It doesn't affect me as deeply as it does some dear friends, but it affects me. I have to watch while these wonderful people cope (and they're doing an excellent job, if you were wondering). I HATE watching people I love hurt. I mean, doesn't everyone?

Also, I've been placed in situations that require a lot of patience. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I've been blessed with a fairly high tolerance level. It takes a lot for me to get annoyed. However, the last month I've had to deal with people and situations that seem to enjoy "tap dancing on my last good nerve." (Twitches quote. I haven't seen that movie in AGES.) This includes some people who are on my "annoy the nice out of me" list. It takes a LOT to be on that list. I decided before I saw them that I was going to be nice. More than be nice, I was going to be truly kind. I was going to love them. I was going to let the comments that would bug me roll off my back. You know what? I had fun. It was a much better experience than I expected it to be. I learned to be more gracious. I have to admit that by the end, I was getting tired, and I slipped a little. I had less fun. I was the only one who was unhappy. But I got to see - and more importantly, feel - the contrast. I learned that to make the "Year of Joy" a reality, I've got to make the choice to be patient and kind to others.

Another thing I've encountered is the countless hours of preparation I've had to do for school and the upcoming ACT (THIS SATURDAY. Prayers would be greatly appreciated) and SAT. I started prep two days after I got back from the UK. It was the beginning of August. It was still summertime! I was home! I was supposed to be lounging on a chair by the pool with my girlfriends, sleeping in, watching TV, reading fun books, and going to movies and parties with my friends! Whatever I was supposed to do, it was NOT spend time at MC working on SAT vocab words or at home taking practice ACT math sections. Gross. I bet you can see where this is going. I have a dream of going to college and surrounding myself with knowledge and wisdom. That's not going to happen unless I score well on these tests. Being a homeschooler, there is more weight on your test score in your application. I want to go to a good school with lots of opportunities for developing my mind, talents, and testimony. So, I got down to business to defeat the College Board. I've worked SO hard, I'm ready for vacatio- wait. School starts tomorrow. Just kidding! In all seriousness, the blessings of this hard work have been evident. I'm not just saying this. My ACT math scores were in the gutter at the beginning of August, and I had my last practice test before the real deal yesterday. I jumped SEVEN points. That isn't all because of me. I've had awesome teachers/tutors, parents, and the Lord on my side as I've undergone this journey. I'm actually excited for Saturday so I can see the fruits of my labors and the power of the Spirit as a guide. I can now co-sign the mantra "Work like it all depends on you and pray like it all depends on Him - Because it does." (BONUS: I still got to do some of those fun things I had wanted to do! Yay for the blessing of multiplied time!)

Work + Attitude = Joy
Overall, as I've worked to keep my attitude positive, I actually have been happier. Things make more sense in school, my friendships are strong, and I'm able to feel the Holy Ghost with me more often. I've even lost some weight! Joy is contagious. All it takes is a smile. I'm thrilled with a new endeavor that some friends and I have taken on. It's called Operation: Positivity, and it's primary goal is to make people happier than they would've been otherwise. One of our "missions" (Well, it IS a special ops unit.), involves standing on a street corner with signs like the ones above, shouting things like "Have a great day! You deserve it!" or "Don't forget to smile - we need it!" or "You are awesome!" We look totally happy, because we are! You get the biggest rush seeing someone brighten up when they read your sign. Using O:P as an analogy, you can't be happy without work. It takes a deliberate decision to be happy, or start an organization. It requires some time figuring out what you want to do, making a plan of attack. It also needs some bravery and willingness to put yourself out there. It's scary making changes in your life, and it's scary standing on a street corner yelling. But it makes you so happy. It makes you joyful. It is legitimately the greatest feeling in the world. I hope that I will be able to keep this momentum going as I dive into my senior year. One month down, nine to go until graduation.


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