“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)
There is something so beautiful about the joy of a child. It seems no matter what they are beholding, whether it be the Magical Kingdom Castle at Disney World, or an unsuspecting dandelion peeking out of the grass, they are fully enraptured.
My life is constantly full of children and I am always in awe of their wide-eyed open heart and open hand approach to life. Everything, no matter how seemingly inconsequential is a possible adventure and every one is a potential new friend.
They have no walls, no barriers, no preconceived notions, and no sweeping judgments. They simply want to have a good time, be loved, and learn about the world around them.
Have you ever reflected on this incredible gift of children? Watching a toddler squeal with unhinged joy as their parent tickles them or seeing a little girl spin and twirl to a melody unbeknownst to anyone but herself, as care free and happy as can be?
It is unquestionably one of the most rewarding and yet also convicting things to witness. It is so refreshing to see the overflowing joy of a child, yet it also can remind you of your own lack of that same kind of child-like enthusiasm for life and wonder when it slipped away from you.
I’m a new mother and one of my greatest joys of motherhood is the amazing privilege of seeing the world through my little one’s eyes. The jangle a ring of keys makes, a stream of bubbles blown in his direction, a surprising “Peek-a-boo!”, a furrowing Eskimo kiss, all warrant the biggest smile and deepest laugh he can muster.
Eight months of being around a literal bundle of joy like Elijah has taught me a few nuggets on the secret to finding and maintaining joy, even in the mundane ebb and flow of life.
Refuse to Compare Yourself to Anyone.
Have you ever heard of the timeless quote, “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”? Few other quotes have been able to accurately sum up the issue so many face of discontentment.
In a world where we interact more through social media than face to face, it can be so easy to compare ourselves with others. Unfortunately social media rarely offers a holistic view of a person or truly tells the full story of their lives, whether positive or negative. We see a beaming smile on a profile picture and our mind creates the “thousand words” to their picture.
A plethora of assumptions come to our mind: the person is happy, successful, loving their life. It doesn’t take long for that innocent thought to bend towards comparison.
Instead of simply thinking: this person is happy, we continue on to this person is happier than me. A post on an acquaintance getting a new job easily triggers the thought: that person is successful, but quickly morphs into the ugly comparative thought: that person is more successful than me.
This shift to comparison can happen in a moment but its effects endure far longer.
What am I doing that is worthwhile? Am I in my purpose? Am I making a difference? Often, we don’t verbally articulate these questions, but they wrestle internally within us often as a direct result of comparison.
Deciding today that you will rejoice as others are rejoicing and you will just as importantly celebrate yourself and your achievements, is the next step of finding joy.
Celebrate Every Victory.
One of the greatest steps to finding joy is learning how to celebrate every victory, even the seemingly small ones. It can be so easy to get into the grind of life, working towards goals, accomplishing them, and without a moment of celebration, continue pressing towards the next goal!
We have to pause and take time to celebrate the major and mini milestones of our life, even if we are the only ones at the party. If we fail to do this, before long, we’ll begin to feel burnt out, with hardly enough strength to continue to the next goal.
Did you just submit an application? Did your child get a good report from school? Did you husband take out the trash? Did your mom send you a thoughtful text? Did you finish a project? Celebrate it!
Change Your Perspective.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Phillipians 4:8 NKJV)
It is hard to have joy when you are missing a focal point that is worthy of celebration. Have you noticed how focused children can be?
What are you focusing on today? Perception shapes reality. If you want to experience the reality of a life overflowing with joy, you have to change your perspective accordingly.
Are you in school, dreading every paper, exam, and assignment? Change your perspective. Allow yourself to see the blessing of being able to further your education, to devote your time to learning, and to sharpen your mind and skills every day.
Is it your job that is stealing your joy today? Take your joy back, using it like a strategic weapon against the attacks of apathy, discouragement, and comparison.
Wake up every morning and decide that your job will be a place for you to grow, to learn, to make valuable connections, and if nothing else, to be a light in a place of darkness.
Is your marriage not at the place you wish it could be? Ask God to give you His perspective towards your spouse and focus in on that. Whatever situation or person is causing you stress, discontentment, or anger now, choose to focus on that which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good, and/or virtuous in your life. Find that thing, even if it is only one thing, and focus in on that!
Appreciate Every Day Moments
Most of our life is made up of the mundane, we often show the world the “big” accomplishments and victories, the graduations, engagements, marriages, job landings, but these are all highlights to the winding trajectory of our life.
The majority of life is filled with the behind the scenes, or the everyday hustle and bustle. Don’t wait to have joy “until (fill in the blank)”, decide to enjoy the here and now.
Enjoy the little moments. Enjoy the moments spending time with your family in the living room watching a movie, enjoy falling asleep curled up on the couch with your spouse, enjoy taking your dog for a walk on a sunny day, enjoy the warmth of a fresh cup of coffee in the morning, enjoy reading a good book after a long day, enjoy the beauty of the Fall season as leaves turn from green to bold sunset hues.
Don’t let another “every day” moment like this pass with out seizing it as an opportunity to enjoy in its fullness.
Surround Yourself with Others who are Enjoying their Lives
The times when you feel the most vulnerable to the onslaught of negative thoughts and emotions are the most crucial times to surround yourself with positive individuals. Identify those in your life that love you for you, are excited to celebrate your victories with you, and are themselves living a live full of joy and contentment.
You know those friends or family members that just make you smile no matter what, the ones who it’s hard to stay around without beginning to feel a little more optimistic about life and a little more pleased with yourself. Spend time with these people and watch your joy multiply!
Here is a prayer for you to experience Joy TODAY:
“God, thank you so much that you came that I would have life and have it to the full! Thank you that you desire for me to enjoy my life, the milestone moments and the mundane. Help me Lord to have joy in my life and to not compare myself to anyone else. Help me to see myself, my life, my family, my job, and every situation I encounter through your loving eyes. I receive your joy today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Was this post helpful for you? What or who brings you Joy in your life? Please share below and allow us to pray with you; we encourage you to share advice about living a life full of joy you have learned!