I first did this activity during the 2017 cross country season at the University of Toledo. At preseason team camp we had each student-athlete choose one word that they wanted to focus on for the fall semester. Every Sunday morning before we ventured out on our weekly long run, two athletes would share their word and explain why they chose that word. It was a powerful activity that made our team closer. It encouraged athletes to learn more about what made them tick.
I haven’t picked a word since that season but as I was thinking about 2019, I realized that this activity was perfect instead of doing a New Years Resolution. I started thinking of my word for 2019 in mid-December but nothing was coming to me. Then right after Christmas, I picked up a book my husband had received in the mail via a book club and I knew after just reading a few pages that my word had been found.
“Too often we move through the physical world as if it were a set stage, a mute backdrop for our daily activities. Yet in reality it is alive with opportunities for inspiration, wonder, and joy….Joy’s power is that small moments can spark big change.”
2019 is a year I want to choose joy in my daily life. Joy is a possibility in every persons life but we have the power to choose it. We have the power to look beyond a circumstance and focus on what really matters in our life.
Running has always brought me joy but there are periods of time when it doesn’t. I dread running. I don’t want to go out the door. I think it’s important to unplug (no iPod, etc) and really take in the beauty around me especially on my morning runs. When I’m not in a good mood on my morning runs, I spend the first 5 minutes of it listing things I am thankful for in my life. I actually stole this idea from a book I have been re-reading (Chop Wood Carry Water) but the grateful mindset I get from these 5 minutes sets me up for a better run (and a better day!).
This is hard to admit but I had a rough transition this past fall. I prayed and begged God for an opportunity that would allow my husband and I to move together. I really wanted to put more energy into my running so a job opportunity for my husband that would allow me to run would be a double bonus. God came through in August; less than a month after our wedding, we were moving to Alabama. The stars had aligned and everything seemed perfect…for about 2 weeks. Then I realized how much I missed my job but more importantly the relationships I had formed in Toledo. I decided to feel bad for myself rather than being grateful for this new opportunity and seeking joy in this new environment. I’ve been working on changing my mindset by reminding myself how lucky I really am…heck I ran in a sports bra last week. If that weather and sunshine isn’t enough to fill me up with joy, I don’t know what will!
Last weekend at church, our pastor said his word for the series was Joy. I don’t think it was coincidence. I think it was a sign that I have so much more to learn. He shared this quote with us during the sermon and I think it sums up everything I need to focus on this year:
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. Joy cannot be manipulated by the actions of puny human beings. It is not dependent on the amount of sadness or suffering or difficulties you endure. At the end of any given day, the amount of joy you experienced is the exact amount of joy you chose to experience. You, my friend, are in charge. The sooner you embrace this pivotal reality, the sooner you can begin to live a more joyful life. – Kay Warren