It’s been raining for what feels like three weeks straight, and to top that off, the Miwest received quite the April Fool’s prank of fake Spring followed by snow in April! The crazy weather and dark, dreary days are enough to get anyone a little down, let alone a mama of four cabin-fevered monkeys who want, no neeeed, to play outdoors.
But this year I’m learning to be more steadfast.
I don’t want the weather, or my busy schedule, or life’s disappointments, or wild-with-energy disobedient children to dictate my own emotions any longer. Instead, I want to find my joy and strength in the Lord, maintaining the calm confidence that comes from Him alone.
Do you want that, too, friend? A steady spirit? A faith that doesn’t waver at every little wave that rocks the boat?
Here are a few simple ways to keep life from stealing the joy that is rightfully ours in the Lord.
10 Simple Ways to Maintain a Cheerful Heart
1. Abide in the Vine.
Nothing brings more joy than being right with our Creator, which makes sense. God Almighty is our very source of life, so avoiding Him literally sucks life from us!
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NASB)
On the other hand, when we spend time focused on Him, we get an infusion of life, and with it, joy – it just bubbles right over and onto everyone around us!
2. Listen to Music.
For some that might be Christian Radio and for others, classical music, classic rock – whatever it is that gives your soul wings. For those days when you really need a dose of biblical truth set to song, I highly recommend this album by Casting Crowns or this one by Sidewalk Prophets.
3. Take Care of Your Physical Body.
I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me more grumpy than skipped meals or a lack of sleep. In addition, this year I’ve noticed that consistent exercise helps me more than I realized before. I feel less stressed after working out and happier! And let’s not even talk about how not good I feel when I overeat (0r eat too much junk)…
The science behind taking care of our bodies doesn’t lie, but even more, we have a biblical mandate to care for God’s temple!
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20 (NASB)
4. Keep Laughing.
Every once in a while I run across a hilarious youtube video that a friend has shared on facebook or elsewhere. I call all of our children to gather ’round the computer and we spend a few minutes giggling and replaying and giggling some more. It lifts the mood of the entire household.
Lately I’ve been trying to be more intentional about this, especially when I drop my children off for school each day. When we pull in the school’s driveway, I say, “Buckles off!” in a silly voice (I even do it when I drop off the teen and his friend and they grin every time).
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 (NASB)
Take a few minutes to tickle your children or let them tickle you. Let everyone share a funny joke at supper. Share the laughter and see less grumpiness in your household.
5. Do something kind for someone else
Joy isn’t meant to be squirreled away and saved for a rainy day; it’s meant to be shared lavishly!
Bringing joy to others has a double benefit – their increased joy boosts our own joy. For added benefit, do something kind for others together as a family!
6. Quit procrastinating.
When the to-do list hangs over your head for multiple days, it’s a sure recipe for anxiety and stress. Eliminate that stress by accomplishing some of your goals daily and giving yourself grace for the things you don’t get done. A sense of a accomplishment (even if it’s just one thing) brings its own joy.
7. Siphon joy from others.
I mean this in the best of ways! A pastor friend once told my husband that when he’s having a rough day or struggling with some discouragement, he spends time with a few key people. He knows he will leave those visits feeling encouraged.
I’ve been reminded of this often as we’ve spent more time lately with fellow pastors and church-planters who are excited about what the Lord is doing in our region. Their enthusiasm is contagious!
It’s the same with joy. If joy is contagious, then we need time with others who exhibit joy.
8. Keep a record of your blessings.
I shared previously about our Thanksgiving Tree, but your record could take any form. You can keep a record in a journal, on your computer, in a photo album, and so forth.
When joy is hard to find, look back at your record. Review God’s faithfulness to you, His many gifts. Looking at that record helps me to remember that hard times don’t last forever, and that sometimes hard times come with their own seasons of joy, too.
9. Experience the beauty of things you love.
When I’m lacking joy, I like to head outdoors, but sometimes the everyday beauty of my backyard isn’t enough. I need a jolt of natural beauty that’s a little more expansive. That’s why I love our family hikes so much! I find that spending time in nature reminds me of the awesomeness of our Creator God.
If you love art, go to an Art Museum. If nature is your thing, schedule some time outdoors. Take some photographs. Write a poem or read a poem. Listen to some beautiful music. Whatever it is that brings some awe back into your life and stimulates creativity is guaranteed to bring joy along for the ride.
10. Take time to rest.
Listen, friends, there are times in our lives when we cannot manufacture joy for the life of us, and it’s not for a lack of trying. I know many who are low-down, worn-out, nothing-left-to-give, physical and emotional wrecks. I’ve been there before myself. It’s a deep, dark, slippery pit of apathy and despair.
It’s in those dark times that we come to realize joy has deeper meaning beyond that of happiness or good cheer. Joy is strength, and that strength must come from the Lord. There is no other method for getting out of that pit. And really that’s good news for us!
Because the joy no longer depends on us. It depends instead on Him, our Father.
When we get so worn out we could just cry, so weary of the everyday grind that we’d love nothing more than to run away, we can find rest in our Father. It may not be the rest that we want – the Carribean Cruise or even just a chance to sleep in – but it’s the rest that our soul truly needs.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden 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 11:28-30 (NASB)
Come to Him.
Find the rest you so desperately seek.
Let the joy of the Lord be your strength!
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