If you Googled “Ways to find joy” you’d get about 787 million suggestions. There are countless articles on this topic. Which makes me realize that inevitably, we all want the same thing – to be happy, to be content and to be joyful!
Given the choice between happiness and joy, I would much rather have joy. Wouldn’t you?
Happiness is a temporary and fleeting feeling. True, I feel happy when I find a cute shirt on sale at my favorite store. I feel happy when everyone eats the dinner I’ve prepared and I feel really happy when the kids are in bed and I have some time to catch up on my favorite NetFlix show. (I know you’re nodding your head right now agreeing with me!)
But happiness comes and goes doesn’t it? And more often than not, it is dependent on something external and outside of ourselves. When its gone you’re sometimes left wondering “what now?” or “what’s the next thing that can give me that same feeling as before?”.
I want something that is more concrete, more permanent. Give me joy!
Joy, comes from within. Joy is what you feel even when its been raining and dreary outside for the past 3 days but still you smile. Joy is what remains long after happiness has faded away. Joy is knowing that you are loved my a force much stronger and bigger than you are.
Because joy is found in being in a relationship with God. I believe that you can only truly have joy by knowing Jesus and growing close to the Holy Spirit.
Of course having joy does not mean you are happy-go-lucky, smiling-till-your-cheeks-hurt and things are easy-peesy all the time. Nope. But joy does help you to see the beauty in the rainy days and rest in the knowledge that you are in your Father’s loving hands.
So how do we find this elusive joy? Well, until I go back to school to get my Master’s in Joyology, I don’t know if I can really answer that question but I wanted to pass along 3 things that I do, almost daily, to help me find joy within my day.
I will not list the obvious one, which is prayer, but these are others I do in addition to my time with God.
MAKE JOY INTENTIONAL
On my bedside table is a notebook that I absolutely love. It has scripture quotes at the top of every page and I have used those as promptings for my journaling. I got my for $4.00 at TJ Maxx but there are tons of options on Amazon. Over the past few weeks when I wake up, I spend a few minutes before I get out of bed thinking about my day. I write down what kind of day I want to have, then I write down specifically what I need to do to make that happen. For example, last Saturday, I woke up in a not so great mood. I could tell I was going to be a cranky crab. Yes, I needed more sleep. Having recognize this feeling of irritation I grabbed my journal and wrote down that I would like to have a day where I feel close to my husband and children and do my part to help us have a happy day together.
To make that happen I would have to (1) try my best to use my calm voice today; no yelling allowed, (2) eat a healthy breakfast (3) accept that the house will be messy, its okay..really (4) give my children grace (5) hug my kids and tell them I love them as many times today as I could and (6) be a force for good and build my husband and children up.
Just writing those things down, helped me so much to feel joyful again. By being intentional about how we can be more joyful, we actually can become joyful. Sometimes during the day, when my house is a disaster, and I have no idea what to make for dinner, I feel frustrated and overwhelmed but then I say to myself “I choose joy right now.” I will not let the messy house, or the dinner menu take my joy. Don’t let it take yours either, friend.
Gratitude is a practice that has come through for me so many times. Times when I am feeling frustrated or angry, I start my taking a deep, long breath. I purposefully slow myself down and stop whatever I am doing for a few minutes. Then I list all the good things in my life. To be more specific, if I am frustrated that the house is a mess (this seems to be a recurring theme for me, hmmm), then I say out loud, or to myself if there’s anyone around all the blessings God has given me. Things like, “thank you God for this house, for these kids who makes this house messy and for the energy and health you have given me to clean it up.” Before I know it, I’m humming away and see the cleaning not as drudgery but as a blessing. In all disclosure, please know that my attitude it not always this way. Oh no! There are times when the mess gets the best of me and thats okay too.
I encourage you to start by listing all the things in your life you are grateful for. I’m hoping this will take 2-3 pages of your journal, hopefully more. List every little, itty-bitty thing. That hot cup of coffee that wakes you up in the morning is definitely a blessing. Those pair of comfy summer sandals that show off your pretty nail polish are definitely blessings.
When you look at your lists of blessings I hope you will see that you are living a life of abundance already. You may not be exactly where you want to be but you my friend are blessed!
I like to end my day by writing something down that I am grateful for as well. Even on a crummy, awful day I can find at least one thing to be grateful for – thank God!
You’re probably rolling your eyes at this one but the studies are all true that exercise makes a huge impact on your level of happiness and joy. The flood of dopamine that are released into your body after a workout can improve your memory, clear your mind and give you a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
As I write this, it has been a little over 2 weeks since my last run! After completing a 10-mile run, I decided to give my body a little (okay, a long) break. Plus with my hubby gone for a week, working full time and comforting my nine-year old with a bad ear infection, I haven’t quiet had the time or the will power to get out of bed early in the morning to work out.
Sometimes life happens and we get a little sidetracked and thats okay.
I absolutely enjoy running. I hate it while I’m doing it but afterwards, I just love the high I get from running all those miles, and accomplishing a goal I’ve set for myself.
If I cannot squeeze a run in, I do HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts from YouTube. My absolute favorite is Fitness Blender and you can find a workout for every area of your body.
YOU CAN DO IT!
Just in case you’re wondering how you can possibly fit these 3 things into your already jammed-pack day, let me tell you that you absolutely can!
I only spend about two to five minutes journaling at the start of my day, two minutes writing down something I am grateful for at the end of the day and about half an hour exercising. That’s roughly 35 minutes out of your entire day! You can totally do that, right?
Will you try it tomorrow and let me know how you feel? Actually, even better, try it tonight before you got to bed. Write down one thing from your day you are grateful for. Then tomorrow, write down what kind of day you want to have and will it into existence.
I cannot guarantee that your kids will listen and your house will be clean if you try this but I am certain that you will find yourself smiling a little more than you did yesterday and find yourself feeling more joyful. I am so excited for you!
You got this mama!