Last week for Brightly Alex Mental Health Mondays, I talked about letting joy and pain coexist, meaning I realized I can be anxious and find joy at the same time. This week, I'm pushing that idea one step further to work out another truth behind finding joy: If I'm pursuing joy for joy's sake, it's empty and unfulfilling.
This has been revealed to me in large part through my anxiety. The things that used to make me happy don't always do the trick these days, and that can be a scary thought. My mind can easily go to "if my favorite thing doesn't give me happiness and life, then will anything ever make me happy again??" I've found myself so narrowly focused on figuring out what brings me joy that I have not been able to fully be in community with God or with those around me.
Additionally, this pursuit furthers the feeling of isolation that anxiety and depression can often bring. Instead of truly caring about others' wellbeing, I'm often caught up in my own thoughts, trying to calculate how different situations and circumstances will make me feel. Of course, taking care of yourself is vital, especially in seasons of struggle. But I'm not talking about caring for myself - I'm talking about obsessing over how every small thing effects me and making that priority.
So instead of chasing joy for joy's sake, I believe that opening myself up to loving and serving better will consequently lead to deeper, lasting joy in my life. I wish I had already figured out exactly what this looks like practically, but maybe next week I'll have some more knowledge gained. Stay tuned ;) For now I'm going to pray more than I sit alone, ruminating on my own thoughts. And I'm going to make an effort to listen more authentically and take more chances to love others.