5 on Friday: ways to choose joy

Earlier in the week, I wrote about finding joy in the here and now, no matter the circumstances, why that’s important and how I’m reluctantly accepting it.

Choosing joy. It sounds good. How do we do it?

I can’t promise that what helps me will help you, but maybe you’ll find an idea for your life based on what I’m discovering. Or maybe you won’t, and that’s okay, too! A year ago I would have said “you’re crazy” if you’d told me I could find joy no matter what. Some days, I still think it’s a little crazy.

Nevertheless, here are some suggestions.

1. Find your inner goofball. Silliness does not come naturally to me. That’s more my husband’s arena, and sometimes I just want to roll my eyes right out of my head at his antics. But here’s a secret I’ve learned in six years of parenting: the sillier you are, the more your kids laugh, and kids’ giggles are an antidote to negativity. (I’m guessing this tactic doesn’t work after a certain age, say, puberty maybe, but for now it works!) If you don’t have kids, watch a comedy. Or several. Sometimes a good laugh is just what you need. When we were at our lowest points, unsure how we were going to get through, laughter was a lifesaver. There were times that laughter led to crying, which was just the release I needed. (We’re kind of in love with Jimmy Fallon right now. If you need a good laugh, check out this video. I laugh every time.)

What joy looks like

What joy looks like

2. Do the opposite. Sometimes life is so frustrating, you just want to scream. Or is that only me? I almost never feel better when I scream or yell at someone or some circumstance. On rare occasions when I remember what does work, I sing. Whatever I can think of. Or I turn some music way up and belt it out. At the end of a long day, the last thing I want to do is sing, but it does give me a lift. Occasionally singing loudly when I want to yell leads to dancing in my kitchen when I want to run away from life. So, consider that a warning. Singing leads to dancing leads to forgetting you’re in a public place and dancing in the aisle of a grocery store. (Not that I’ve actually done that. Yet. But there’s one grocery store in our area where it could happen. And almost has. I’ll let you know if I make a fool of myself!)

3. Reflect. On where you’ve been. On how far you’ve come. On the goodness of God. That’s one thing this song has helped me do.

We have a lot of good in our lives. Sometimes it just takes more effort to see it. <Tweet that>

4. Serve. Maybe you feel empty, like you don’t have anything to give. I get that, too. And when someone tells me to serve I want to shout, “yeah, but who’s serving me?” Selfish, much? All the time. But doing something for someone else does some mysterious thing in my heart. It connects me to the rest of humanity, reminds me of my place in the world, that I’m not alone and have a purpose. Retreating into my own misery is like letting a wound fester. It stinks and eventually does more damage than whatever caused the pain initially.

5. Say yes. I’m a notorious naysayer. For so long we didn’t have the means–money, time, physical energy–to say “yes” to much of anything. This year, I’ve vowed to say “yes” more often. To trips to the park for no other reason than it’s nice outside. To ice cream as a treat for the kids helping out around the house. To new opportunities to be involved at church. To friendships that stretch me. To experiences that scare me a little. I’m not sure I’m succeeding at this much (it was a long winter!) but it’s there in my mind. I can’t say “yes” to everything, nor should I, but automatically saying “no” robs me of the chance to find joy in something new.

joy snowman

I hate playing outside in the snow. But one day I said yes to my kids and we built these silly snowmen. The joy lasted for days.

Choosing joy isn’t a hard choice for some people. And I’m sure you all have your own methods to find ways to enjoy life. Care to share?


3 thoughts on “5 on Friday: ways to choose joy

  1. Love this post, Lisa 🙂 Our women’s Bible study recently finished a study on Joy. I don’t usually have that much trouble finding joy in things, (maybe because I AM silly a lot?) but those last two tend to be harder for me. I want to say no to things that are new, that scare me. Or because it takes a lot of effort. But you’re right. Serving even in any small way can really make you feel better! It takes your focus off of yourself and puts it on helping someone else. And sometimes I do scream. Or stomp my feet. And I know I shouldn’t, but it does release the anger. Maybe get a punching bag! Singing along to an angry or rebellious song can release some of that anger (I used to sing Shut Up by Simple Plan whenever I was angry) but it doesn’t actually help any. Clearly you’re listening to the RIGHT kind of music if it gets you dancing and forgetting about your problem for a bit 🙂

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