The Power of Being Joyful

Yael Eckstein  |  January 27, 2023

Israeli female soldiers smiling

A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
    but heartache crushes the spirit.
— Proverbs 15:13

Today, I continue with a new devotional series on joy, simcha — the joy found in the grateful acceptance and celebration of each day God has given to us. Join me as we explore teachings on the joy found in connecting with God and with others.

How do you prepare yourself for a challenging task? Do you just look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, “You can do this”? Psychologists recommend visualizing yourself being successful. In recent years, much has been written about the power of positive thinking in achieving success.

I thought about this recently when I came across a historical fact that surprised me. Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies were known as the most powerful army of their time. They were known to fight with great courage and energy. So what was Napoleon’s secret. Did he train his soldiers harder? Was it their diet? Was it something he told them?

According to many historians, Napoleon’s secret weapon was in the way he motivated his troops. 

The Power of Begin Joyful

Just as every army includes special officers to supply food and ammunition, so did Napoleon’s. But here’s the amazing thing. Napoleon’s army also included professional musicians, comedians, and entertainers, whose job was to keep the soldiers in good spirits.

These entertainers were considered no less important than the officers who led the soldiers into battle. On the nights before a battle was to take place, when worry and fear threatened to take over a soldier’s heart, Napoleon’s entertainers would create a joyful atmosphere. The soldiers would go into battle strong and confident.

In Proverbs we read, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” The Hebrew word for “crushes” here literally means “cripples.” In other words, being unhappy can cause weakness and inability to act.

There’s a power in being joyful. When we are joyful, it shows. Everyone around us knows it, and they feed off of our joy as well. In addition, when we are joyful, we are stronger, inside and out. According to Jewish tradition, we are also more open to receiving God’s blessings.

Today and every day we are faced with many opportunities to let go of our joy. It could be a rude person or simply something not going the way we thought it would. It could be something as silly as misplacing our keys and having to spend a few minutes looking for them.

Rather than allowing these petty little things to crush our spirits, we must guard our hearts to be joy-filled and joyful!

Your Turn:

Before a challenging task take a few moments to listen to some music that inspires you and lifts your spirits. See how being happy gives you added energy to succeed.