Feelings and joy

eejit osteen

When you’re tempted to be upset, ask yourself, “Is this worth giving up my JOY?” ~Joel Osteen

I loathe this passionately. Almost anything Joel Osteen says winds me up. Translation: “When you are actually angry or sad or frightened, suppress that emotion and pretend to yourself that you feel joy”.

This is very different from saying that where you cannot change a situation, it is beneficial to accept it and not let resentment eat at you. Indeed. But when I feel an emotion that is useful information, and I will not suppress my emotion. And also, when angry at one part of what I see, thinking about what delights me in my experience helps me.

Incidentally, “upset” is not an emotion. Being upset or wound up is a measure of the strength of the feeling, not whether it is anger fear or sadness or perhaps disgust. It is also a symptom of being disturbed by the feeling, trying to resist it. That is why the wording “tempted to be upset” is so poisonous: it tempts us to deny our feelings, so we have no sense of what is good or bad for us.

I suppose Osteen’s point of view could have benefits if we get upset about the state of the world- the wars and rumours of wars, the inequality, the roiling sea of anger- I would say, Trust in God. All manner of thing shall be Well, and Osteen might agree. But even there, I want to acknowledge my feeling, so that I may let it go; not suppress it, so that it eats away at my Joy and everything else. If I acknowledge my feelings of helpless horror, they can coexist with my Joy; and then fade away.

2 thoughts on “Feelings and joy

  1. There are so many layers in Joel’s statement, that for practical purposes, you might consider it useless, esp. if you are coming from a place that is acknowledging the value of emotions, including negative ones. When we are younger, we live in fear or awe of others’ opinions and seek approval, and so often suppress what we are truly feeling. As we get older, with luck, that changes, and we seek approval less, and authenticity more.

    So a statement like that can be really annoying. But, maybe the word ‘tempt’ is a clue, that in a situation, we may be thinking of indulging that sense of personal outrage so many people seem to enjoy. Indeed, I used to find myself there often, until I realised I did have a choice, and could laugh instead.

    At its most useful, I suspect Joel’s statement means, ‘when you are facing two or three roads, take the one that keeps you happy. If being angry makes you happy, then please, be angry.’

    A most useful post to reflect on. Thanks so much, Clare. xxx 😀


    • Walking along the Union Canal east of Linlithgow comes to mind. I would see a beer can or crisp packet, and be angry at the person who dropped it. I learned through that to look at the water and the hills and the fowl, not that narrow part which angered me. It was an early lesson in positive thinking. I suppose there are some circumstances in which the Osteen quote is not entirely harmful.

      Liked by 1 person

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