How Choosing Joy Changes You from the Inside Out

Positive thinking people choose an attitude of joy. They are eager for every day, and make the most of it—whether it turns out as they’d planned or not. They aren’t afraid to smile, to delight in others, or to take a day off. They enjoy relationships.

The opposite of joy is drudgery, seeing life as an endless series of meaningless tasks. Sadly, that’s the way many people choose to live.

Your outlook on life is a choice you make. The simplest thing you can do to improve your circumstances is to change your attitude toward them. And that’s completely within your power to do!

You Really Can Choose Joy

Everyone has been given by God  the power to choose joy. But don’t take my word alone. Listen to what Kay Warren, cofounder with her husband, Rick Warren, of the well-known Saddleback Church, has to say about it:  “Joy is a choice. The level of joy you experience is completely and totally up to you. It is not dependent on anyone else—what they do or don’t do, how they behave or don’t behave.”


Not long after those words were written they were put to the test as the Warrens’ adult son took his own life after a long battle with mental illness. The family grieved deeply, of course, and shared those emotions with the world. But Kay Warren’s positive outlook was not diminished.

If her joy had been based on circumstances, it certainly would have evaporated in the face of overwhelming grief. But it didn’t disappear because it was based on a positive outlook and a complete faith in God.

There’s Proof!

Research in the field of positive psychology has shown that adults can adjust their own feelings of happiness.  “Antidepressants don’t make people happier, they just decrease negative emotions,” according to psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California-Riverside. She argues that up to 40 percent of our happiness “is left for the intentional activities that we can choose to engage in—the things that we do and think every day of our lives.”

Lyubomirsky has found that people can actually force themselves to feel joy. While it is true that about half of our feelings of happiness or unhappiness results from our genetic makeup, most of the rest can be controlled through our daily thoughts and actions. “Research is showing pretty convincingly now that happiness is really within us, it’s not outside of us,” said Lyubomirsky. “It’s in what we do. It’s sort of how we act, how we think every day of our lives.”[2]

“The greatest discovery of any generation,” said psychologist William James, “is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.” You can make a choice for joy in your life. And I would quickly add that the greatest joy is the joy of sins forgiven by our Lord and Savior.

What about you? How do you rise above your circumstances and choose to have a positive outlook? I’d love to hear your answer on Facebook or Twitter.



[1]. Kay Warren, Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Revell, 2012), 21–22.

[2]. Michael Mendelsohn, “Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness” ABC News, January 11, 2008,



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