What if you lost your job, your house burned down, the creditors were closing in, and your marriage had become hellishly confrontational? No, that's not make believe. That's the real life of a real person. How can you maintain a positive outlook under such stress and strain?

Six ways to find joy in the face of overwhelming circumstances:

1. Start by finding things for which to be grateful. Gratitude is crucial to your happiness. If you are reading this article, you are alive and your brain is functioning fairly well. Start your gratitude list with living, breathing, and thinking. Add every blessing, however tiny, to your list. Every moment without pain is a blessing, every bite of food, every bird, tree, and butterfly. Give thanks for every "hello," and every smile.

2. Give thanks, also, for the life lessons. Make a list of what you have learned - yes, a written list. Be grateful for each lesson. Life lessons often come at great cost, but they are priceless jewels.

3. Do you have a support system - friends and family you can confide in? If so, be very grateful, and use that network now. Don't be embarrassed to seek emotional support from those you respect and love. If you don't feel you have a support network, find one in your church or community, and be grateful for those who are willing to be of service.

4. Care for your body and spirit with special attention and gentleness in this time of great challenge. Several times each day, take a moment to breathe deeply and center yourself. Consider beginning yoga or qigong. Eat healthy, keep hydrated. Get enough sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, pay special attention to the rest of the ideas in this article, they will all help you sleep better.

5. Begin each day with a silent walk: Get up a half hour earlier to make time for it. While a walk in a natural setting is ideal, a walk on city streets will do fine. Thoughts, angers, resentments, and fears will form in your mind as you walk. That "mind chatter" is always with us whenever we are not focused on a specific mental activity, and it gets much stronger when we are stressed. Neither resent the mind chatter, nor let it linger. Say "thank you" to each passing thought, anger, resentment, or fear - then release it and return to your silent walk.

6. Release your angers, resentments, and fears by feeding your troubles and fears to the cleansing fire: Light a candle or small fire. Write one trouble or fear on a piece of paper, and feed it to the fire, while releasing the issue to Spirit. Repeat until you can no longer think of another issue that burdens you.

May your days be bright with joy and hope.

Author's Bio: 

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Jonathan Lockwood Huie is an author of self-awareness books, and has been dubbed "The Philosopher of Happiness" by those closest to him, in recognition of his on-going commitment to seeing Joy in all of life.

** Today is your day to dance lightly with life. It really is. - jonathan lockwood huie **