Secret to Joy croppedWhat is the secret to a joy-filled life? Does such a thing even exist? Since the beginning of time, mankind has searched just about everywhere in hopes of finding out this secret. Today we’re mostly trying to find joy in someone or something outside of themselves. But where exactly did God place the secret to a joy-filled life? Is it possible that our heavenly Father branded joy into the very fiber of our being? I think God gave all of us a shot at experiencing the proactive happiness I call joy. After all, we are his most beloved creation.

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As humans, we search for joy in all the wrong places. And what we receive is just a sporadic sampling, a fraction of the real deal, a clever counterfeit to genuine joy.  We look outside, not inside. The secret to a joy-filled life is so close, so obvious, that the inside is often the last place we look. We search everywhere but within.

Living with joy is our birthright. It is God’s intention for all his children. In 1 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul writes, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (5:16-18, NIV). As children of God, we are rightful heirs to the blessing of overflowing joy. God has declared us as worthy. As a result, we have a calling and responsibility to express and demonstrate joy by the way we live.

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Being joy-filled does not mean that your life is perfect. Who could claim that? It doesn’t even mean that your life is great. What it does mean is that you emphatically trust God and believe that he has great plans for your life, regardless of what is happening right now. Joy is the infectious and uncontainable fruit of divinely inspired growth. It’s a deeply entrenched, unshakable belief, the result of sustained right thinking and dwelling on the nature and character of God. Joy is an outward sign of inward faith in the promises of God. It is a way of acting, and it is evidence of spiritual maturity. Joy is not a distant destination at which you arrive;  rather, it’s a path you choose to travel each day.

Joy is the sum and substance of emotional health. It is a state of mind that must be deliberately cultivated if you are determined to live and love and influence others as God intended. How do you cultivate joy? To begin with, you make the decision never again to settle for anything less than real joy. Independent of outer conditions, joy is the results of practicing what I call the 4:8 Principle.

My two oldest boys have figured out that I am not the most complex guy in the world.  When we’re playing capture the flag with their friends, I often hide the flag out in the open, almost in plain view. you guessed it—for a long time it’s the last place any of the kids look. When playing hide and seek, I’ll often hide in the same spot to 3 times in a row, consistently escaping detection (at least for a little while). Our human nature, with an assist from modern culture, promotes the idea that solutions must be deep and complicated to be valuable. In most cases, nothing could be further from the truth. Lasting solutions are surprisingly simple. Joy is within us, but it must be released. 

The 40 Day Joy Challenge has been developed to help you experience the joy God intended for you. This online course produces better habits, stronger relationships, and greater joy in less than 9 minutes a day. Sign up to begin your journey here.

This article is an excerpt from Tommy Newberry’s book The 4:8 Principle.

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