Yesterday I talked about the stress and chaos that often robs us of our joy. Today we are going to focus on some things that help us in regaining and maintaining joy in our lives. Having joy does not mean that we are happy all the time, or that we never have problems. Instead, for the Christian, it is a deep contentment and happiness that is centered on the Creator.
So how do we find this contentment and joy? I believe a large part of the answer is found in Philippians 4:8-9. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Consider this–if we focus on the untrue, ignoble, wrong, unpure, ugly or abominable, then our minds will fill with depression and fear. But in focusing on the good things, we are much more likely to find joy.
Key to finding joy in our lives is to have a solid relationship with God.
If you are struggling spiritually, learn to study his word, spend time in prayer with him, and listen to the Holy Spirit as he guides us. Not only will our spiritual walk continually improve, but this will help us by giving us the faith to hand our problems to God and let him work on them. Of all the things we can do to bring a deep, abiding joy in our life, it is to develop a deep relationship with God.
Colossians 2:6, says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
The fact of the matter is that joy is one part of the fruit of the Spirit and should be embedded in every Christian’s life. Galatians 5:22 reads, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” By focusing on whatever listed in Philippians 4:8, we will find ourselves changing and growing, and it will be easier to leave the joy stealers behind us.
Identify unrealistic expectations holding us back from true happiness.
We are bombarded on every side by media and even people we know who are telling us what we need to do to in order to have a better life. If we just peruse through a magazine, we will see how many products are being promoted to entice us into thinking if we buy them our life will be better. John F. Kennedy said, “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” We listen to lies and myths daily. And they set up unrealistic expectations in our lives.
Women especially are bombarded by the messages of being better and being perfect. Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda, becomes a catch phrase for us as we review ourselves from a lens that is frequently skewed and sometimes even detrimental to us. Learn to discern your unrealistic expectations and let them go. Learn to lean on Jesus and let go of the expectations of others.
Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28
Define ways we can actually bring joy back into our lives.
Immerse your self in God’s Word. Try some soul nurturing. Have a mini-retreat with just you and God (even if it is only 1 hour long!) Have a special place set aside where you can read your Bible, journal and pray. I found that was especially difficult when I had young children, but it can bring such joy to your life when you are at a good place with God.
Surround yourself with Christian friends. Good friends help provide perspective, companionship, a place to vent, accountability and encouragement. However, if you have a toxic friend, they provide doom and gloom and are critical and negative influences on your life. Finding friends is not always easy and I would suggest looking at common ministries at church, small groups, or even in a MOPS (Mothers of preschoolers) program.
The right kind of friends can share our faith and values. Choose someone who is positive, is a good listener, believes the best in you, communicates honestly and directly, and can keep confidences.
Learn to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. It is sometimes hard to find all the good around us, but sometimes we just need to focus on the little things that cross our paths every day. Finding a cheerful heart is important to our mental health. Psalm 119:111 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
If you are having difficulty finding joy, the following are a few ways to enjoy life’s simple pleasures:
- Reconnect with the world around you
- Take a walk in nature
- Cook or bake
- Develop a daily gratitude practice (I keep a gratitude jar and fill it with things I am grateful for)
- Listen to your favorite music
- Sing and Dance
- Laugh–a lot. Laughter is proven to relieve pain, reduce stress, and build our immune system
- Get enough sleep
- Take time to journal or read something that nourishes your soul
- Meditation, Prayer and Bible study releases feel good hormones, reduces stress and improves cardiovascular health
- Do Good for others
- Maintain realistic expectations
- Dress Happy
- Do volunteer work
- Set goals – not only for where you want to be in life, but include some relaxing such as a spa day, getting your nails done, reading a good book, taking a bubble bath.
- Send letters, poems, or drawings to first responders, essential workers, or elderly people on their own, for example.
I am sure we can find the joy that can be ours if we look for the “whatever” in life. One of my favorite scriptures is found in Isaiah 55:12. It paints such a rich picture that it fills my heart with joy each time I read it.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
So while joy may sometimes seem elusive to us, if we practice some of the suggestions above and make Philippians 4:8 a habit in our lives, we will find ourselves much more attuned to having joy. God wants us to have joy in our lives. A deep, abiding joy in him that is not contingent on our circumstances but rather rooted in his love and grace. Let’s start the journey today.
More Scriptures about joy: Psalm 5:1, Psalm 5:11, Psalm 71:23, Psalm 94:19, Jeremiah 15:16, John 16:24, Acts 2:28, Romans 15:3, Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Hebrews 12:1-3, 1 Peter 1:8-9,