Happiness can be discovered in the best of times and joy can be experienced in the worst of times. Happiness flows out of our circumstances, but joy springs from the vision of a completed race. Happiness makes you laugh, but joy makes you stronger. So remember that you can endure almost anything if you can picture a better, stronger, and more joyful future.
Whenever possible, I enjoy rolling around the world on two wheels and recently I was riding my single-speed bicycle up a long, steady, and steep incline. In fact, it was a 1,243-foot climb over five miles straight to the top of my hometown. Did I mention that I have a single-speed bicycle? About four miles into the climb I was panting, sweating, and ready to quit when, fortunately, I saw a message someone had spray painted on the asphalt. It read: ‘It’s just a hill. Enjoy.’
It made me laugh, but it also helped me stay focused and to push through the pain. Remember that whatever you are going through today, ‘It’s just a hill. Enjoy.’ But steep hills are tough. Is it really possible to “enjoy” them? When you get heartbreaking news from a doctor, a letter of rejection, or your boss tells you to pack up your things, these moments are never easy. Yet it’s in these moments that you can discover your true character. It’s in these moments that you learn to press on through adversity. You never give up. You push. You give it your all. You pray. You sweat. You live with purpose.
Each hill in life is an opportunity for you to experience joy. Case in point: at the end of my grueling five mile ride was a priceless, breath-taking view of the place that I call home. And later, as I coasted back down the same hill that had tried to break me, I realized that most of the steep hills in life, have a pleasant gravitational pull towards a peaceful valley.
Here are three lessons that I’ve learned:
1. Perspective. No matter how bad circumstances are today, they could be worse. Gaining perspective on any hill gives us the ability to have joy in the midst of our pain.
2. Thankfulness. Pain is often the thankful reminder of how many good things we’ve had in our lives. Hills remind us to be thankful at all times and thankfulness leads us back to joy.
3. Choice. Joy is a choice. It is an understanding that there is hope in the worst of times and that there is always something or someone to enjoy in the midst of pain.