The Competing Joys of Life

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Life can get pretty hectic, but oftentimes if we take a step back we will realize that everything in our crazy lives actually brings us a lot of joy.  Isn’t the reason we do what we do every day is because we want to be happy? We live every day striving to be the happiest we can be. However, sometimes the hard part isn’t trying to find things that will potentially make us happy. More often than not, the most difficult part of our lives is choosing between the many joys that we already have access to.

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More often than not, the most difficult part of our lives is choosing between the many joys that we already have access to.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column enable_animation=”true” animation=”grow-in” boxed=”true” centered_text=”true” width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Shannon Hays Twitter Profile Picture

Shannon Hays Twitter Profile Picture
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Shannon Hayes wrote an article entitled “When You’ve Built a Life of Joys, the Biggest Challenge is Choosing” for YES! Magazine about her personal struggle in choosing between the many joys life has to offer.  Hayes has a life full of writing, homeschooling her children, farming with three generations of her family, raising grass fed lamb, beef, pork, and poultry, as well as the many responsibilities of homemaking. Her life seems insanely hectic, and yet in her article she proclaims, “The greatest challenge in our family is negotiating among competing joys.”  Hayes and her family choose to be busy doing things that bring them joy. She states.

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“It sounds pretty wonderful or even impossible. But competing joys are the theme of our life. If we are walking fence lines it is because we want to be keeping livestock. If we are hauling meat, it is because we want to go to the farmers market. If I am up early in the morning, it is because I want to write. If I am sitting at the kitchen table every day with my daughters, it is because I want to teach them. If we are washing a lot of big pots and pans, it is because we want to eat well. If there is dirt under our nails, it is because we want to work in the garden. The livestock bring us joy. The meat tastes delicious. The farmers market is a source of deep pleasure. The writing feeds my soul. The homeschooling nourishes our minds and hearts. The garden fills our table and is as pleasurable to gaze upon as an ocean view.”

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It would be easy for Hayes to complain about the many difficulties of her lifestyle …. However, the work brings her happiness because of the many benefits her and her family receives from their labors.

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It would be easy for Hayes to complain about the many difficulties of her lifestyle. A day full of hauling meat, doing lots of dishes, waking up early, and walking fence lines sounds like a full load of work. However, the work brings her happiness because of the many benefits her and her family receives from their labors. Oftentimes we forget the benefits of our labors because of how hard we have to work to receive them. There are always benefits to working hard, we just have to see and appreciate them. We have to choose to focus on the fruits of our labors, instead of the labor itself. Once we start focusing on the profits our labors bring us, we too will be able to say that our greatest challenge is “negotiating among competing joys.”

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Hayes also comments, “This is a life built intentionally, where dreams manifest through choices.”  Her dream life didn’t just fall in her lap. Like she said, it was intentional. Her and her family made specific choices to be able to live their dream. We need to live our lives intentionally, make goals, and choose to pursue them. When we do this our dreams will “manifest through our choices” as well.  We must choose a life that we love, then continue to focus on why we love it—not on the work it requires.

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Even though Hayes and her family live a life that they love, they still sometimes struggle to complete everything they’d like to. Hayes explains how she achieves what she does:

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“There are two secrets to getting it all done. The first is to remember that they are joys. These are the ways I have chosen to fill my life. I must think about the fact that I have chosen to do it, that I am where I want to be. I maintain my energy by remembering I am doing what makes me happy, and allowing my mind to slip into a state of blissful reverie as my body enjoys the physical pleasures of the task. The second secret is to look forward to the coming winter. The days are growing shorter. The sunlight less intense. “The rest will come then,” we constantly assure ourselves.”

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All of us sometimes struggle getting things done. Like she said, it is important to remember that we have chosen to do the task at hand. Hopefully we, like Hayes, have chosen it because it brings us joy. When we can remember that, it will help us get through whatever task we are struggling with. Unlike Hayes, we may not be looking forward to winter as a time of rest and repose; however all of us have some down time. While we are busy and struggling to get things done we can always look forward to the coming rest. Whether you are looking forward to going to bed at night, relaxing a little on the weekend, or a summer vacation, there is always some rest ahead. Looking forward to that and remembering the business of today is not permanent will help us get through any task.

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Hayes closes her article by stating.

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All of us sometimes struggle getting things done.

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“It is true that we do not live this way because we have to. We live this way because we want to. But we must take that same truth and apply it to our rest and recuperation. We must choose those things now, when we want them, before they become compulsory. Otherwise, this life built by intention and choice will suddenly be dictated by requirements for medical care and rehabilitation.”

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Building a life of many joys is a wonderful thing. However as we do that, we still need to remember to rest and recuperate. We must be healthy and happy so medical issues don’t disrupt the competing joys of our lives. Having a healthy body is something that will only bring joy to our lives. Everything is a choice. We can choose to live healthily and we can choose to live a life that will bring us many joys. Once we make those choices, we too can say that our greatest difficulty is “negotiating among competing joys.”

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