When you wake up each day, are you happy about it? Do you give thanks that you’ve been given another day to make a difference, to make an impact, to live your best life and to make the lives around you better?
Or do you grumble through the morning, wish away the afternoon and sulk in your sorrows when the sun dips down?
For the past 24 months, we’ve all been dealing with some rather unimaginable challenges in our personal and professional lives. We’ve all been asked to do things in ways inextricably linked to our future and the ways we approach work and life. To get through it without feeling a little stress and anxiety would be unusual.
We can lead by example with the way we handle the world around us and the way we respond to all the challenges and struggles being set in front of us. We can become bitter, angry, and combative – or we can choose to be defiantly joyful.
I heard that phrase just this past weekend – be defiantly joyful – and it struck me like a hammer to the head. I’d never heard it before. I mean, it’s not like those two words make a lot of sense together. You don’t think of someone being defiant as a joyful thing. In fact, quite the opposite. But think about those two things together… I believe there’s some real magic in that phrase and it applies to how we interact with our family, friends, and our customers.
When someone is screaming at you over the retail counter, you can choose to let it bother you, or you can respond with kindness and understanding. When your sales deal falls through, you can let the anxiety overtake you, or you can choose to just move forward on another sale. When your business faces logistical, supply, staffing or other conundrums, you can let the strain invade your life, or you can tackle the issues one by one and through efficiencies and creative thinking, find new and better ways to overcome.
In short, you can allow the negative to sink in and take hold. Or, you can be defiantly joyful, knowing that you have the power to choose, and you have the strength and ability to move beyond. And that in the end, this too shall pass.
You’ve all heard the saying, “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Well, I believe being defiantly joyful can make you infinitely stronger as well. So, in this season of hope, love, and peace, please use it as a time to spread joy. And when something is working hard to get you down, stare it in the face with your defiant joy.
I want to also take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped the NASGW find success this year. From our amazing board of directors, our staff, but most importantly, the members who support us through thick and thin, we couldn’t do this without you. We had a great year, and I can’t explain just how amazing it was to be back together with you all – in person – during our Expo in October. Thank you for bringing back the normal. Thank you for joining us in being defiantly joyful in the midst of everything happening in the world today.
On that note, I don’t want to overlook the challenge that this time of year might bring to some who are close to us. While many are celebrating and enjoying the spirit of the season, others are fighting a battle inside themselves. Mercifully, many find help and can work their way back. Sometimes though, the pain is too deep, the struggles so crushing people turn to drugs, alcohol or in severe cases, even suicide. In many cases, suicide using a firearm.
Outside of my work as the leader of NASGW, I serve as a board member for another national group, Walk the Talk America (WTTA). WTTA was created in 2018 as a charitable organization designed to spread the word about mental health issues and to reduce firearms suicides or other negative incidents where firearms are involved. I was at the beginning and still am, proud to be involved in such an important mission.
Today, WTTA continues to grow and expand its reach into the firearms industry and the world of mental health providers, and where possible, bring these two communities together to do good. Through educational seminars, public speaking opportunities, free mental health screenings, training for mental health professionals and even by providing gun box informational flyers available to any gun manufacturer in the U.S., WTTA is making a difference. If you’re not familiar with the organization, you can get more details at www.wtta.org.
I’m not asking you necessarily to financially support the organization, though I know that would certainly be welcome, I’m simply asking you to help spread the word about mental health awareness or even to offer a shoulder to someone who needs it or be there for a friend or family member in need. Sometimes, all it takes to save a life is to just listen. Working together, inside our community and partnering with others, especially at this time of year, we can all play a small part in making a difference and maybe prevent a firearm suicide or get someone the help they desperately need.
Whether you’re spreading joy and cheer or lending a hand to someone who might be facing a difficult time, defy the culture, defy the odds, and do what you know to be right.
I want to wish you, your family, and your friends a blessed and merry Christmas and a most wonderful and happy New Year!