I’m a work in progress.
I wanted that to be my first sentence because it is so very, very true. I plan to share with you just how I am finding joy and peace in my life again, but I want you to know first and foremost that I am not “there” yet. I’m not to that point in my life where I can say I’m not still feeling the painful aftermath of divorce. I still struggle with fear and sometimes when I think of what my kids have had to suffer my heart aches terribly… but I’m not feeling lost anymore. I’m discovering what I need to do every day to keep my focus on God’s provision and the blessings around me. I’m finding joy and peace again.
Even without a traumatic event like divorce or death, sometimes the daily grind can wear us down. There might be a negative person in your life that you can’t escape from, or you might be barely making ends meet at a point when you thought you would be doing better financially. Whatever your situation, you can take daily steps to live a joyful life.
Here are 7 ways I’m beating negativity and bringing joy and purpose back to my life, one day at a time:
1. Quiet time in snatches
I have found that keeping busy isn’t always the best answer (for me), though of course I don’t want to downplay the value of staying connected with loved ones, making new friends, getting involved in your community, and loving on your family. But there needs to be down time as well, to even things out. Even a few minutes of quiet every day will make a difference if we are using them to put our focus where it should be.
For example, if you’re at work from 9-5 you can use your lunch breaks or one of your 15-minute daily breaks to sit in your car, close your eyes, breathe evenly, and repeat scriptures to yourself that God has given you lately or quotes that build you up. If you’re a stay-at-home-mom, have a daily quiet time for the kids and yourself and use that time to do the same.
Note: In my experience, television and computer time doesn’t count as down time. There is a time for it (believe me, I love my evening Downton Abbey), but it is more of a temporary distraction than quiet time. Your mind isn’t resting. Just something to think about!
2. Music to set the mood before the kids get up
I’ve recently reinstated morning mood music (usually scripture songs or classical music) and what a difference! No one has time to think about whether they’ll be grumpy, happy, moody, sullen, etc… including me. Yes, my brain can be my worst enemy, and especially in the last few months have I needed to keep my mind occupied with beautiful things. Music is one of God’s gifts to us, it can be uplifting or make you feel sad, calm you or energize you. Use music to your advantage, both for yourself and your family!
3. Pamper yourself every once in awhile
Its amazing how much of a lift a special snack or treat can give you, in my case usually a small bowl of double moose tracks ice cream (oh my, it is heavenly) or a cup of coffee with homemade creamer. These things bring a little extra joy to my life and make me feel pampered.
I should brainstorm some non-edible treats for myself, or I’m going to buying the next pant size up. :p
4. Making time to do things you love in your busy day
Do you enjoy baking? Or sewing? Or reading? I love to bake (hm, there seems to be a sugary sweets trend with me) and I especially love to share the resulting bounty with my kids. I’ve found that baking fills the home with pleasant aromas, gives me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and generally is a wonderful way to bring joy into the home. So I make time for it!
Another thing I do is purposefully have fun with my kids. We play MarioKart together, take walks to a small creek nearby, do the chores together, plan future meals, paint and draw together, read good books and watch family movies, and plan trips to special places. Its just as important to me that I spend purposeful joy-filled time together with those I love as it is to make time for quiet.
This has NOT always been easy – extreme stress can make you feel paralyzed. But in my case, that feeling did pass in time and everyday tasks that had once been hard became easier. :)
5. Positive thoughts when negativity or reminders of past hurt enter your mind
This can be tough, but over time I have been able to be more consistent about keeping things positive around me. I have so much hope for my present and my future! I have come a long way. :)
Some of the ways I have encouraged uplifting thoughts in myself:
– I put inspiring quotes and scriptures all over the house, wherever I go during the day. This is around my bed, my computer, the bathroom, the kitchen, the front door, the dining room, and my car. It’s surprisingly helpful and makes an extreme difference in my state of mind.
– I take time at night (during the warmer months) to sit on the porch after the kids are in bed, taking in the sounds and sights around me. I have to fully focus on these things and suddenly I notice them. Cows bawling, birds singing their bedtime songs, horses whickering to each other, chickens settling into their coop, the sound of the kids’ praise music through the window, crickets chirping, owls hooting. I see bats zooming somewhat haphazardly through the sky, and the moon peeking out from behind the trees. I notice the sweet smell of newly mown grass and the aroma of the fruit trees. I love it all, and it reminds me of what I should be thankful for.
– When times have been toughest, I have forced myself to pray out loud, thanking God for all my blessings – each one by name. It kind of forces you to adjust your perspective on life. Yes, this present situation is terrible, but there are still good things going on in my life. And sometimes the bad situation is a blessing in disguise – that’s possibly the best kind of tribulation you can go through.
6. Time with the Lord in the morning
I have my alarm set for 5:30 a.m. every day so I can get up and spend time with God before the kids wake. This really gives my day the perfect start and I find that my mind is in a better place when I take time for this. It’s not always easy – sometimes my heart is overwhelmed or my mind is distracted. When that happens, I talk to God out loud, asking Him to give me peace and joy for the day…
Then I take time in the quiet to listen for His answer.
And He speaks to me! How awesome is that? I used to think there were only a privileged few who heard from God, and I would never make that list. But that’s not true at all. It all started when I learned to start listening for His voice expectantly. I didn’t know how He would speak, but I was desperate to hear from Him. And He did something truly amazing – He brought scriptures to my mind in answer to my tearful questions. In the chaos of my mind, the words would come to me clearly. Not in a booming God-like voice (ha), but in the quiet of my mind. Since then, many more verses have come to me with perfect clarity at the time I most needed to hear it and always after I’ve asked Him for guidance or an answer. This is all a complete miracle in my book because I have a terrible memory and can’t come up with scriptures on my own when I want them! That’s how I know God is speaking to me – it’s just simply not me. It’s His voice. I can’t express just how comforting it is to me to know that He does this for me. :)
BUT I have to be quiet enough to be able to truly listen.
Another thing you can do is buy a special study Bible with wide margins and as you read through it, write down or highlight the scriptures that mean something special to you. I have read hundreds of Psalms, and find so many scriptures that encourage me. Then I “doodle” the verses in the margins and draw pictures that correspond with the key scriptures. I have a pen and colored pencils nearby so I can make it all pretty.
If doodling in your Bible makes you gasp with horror, you can also start a prayer journal. ;)
7. Making small and large goals
Everyone should have goals. More than just “Get all my bills paid” and “Go to bed at a decent hour this week”. Goals that excite you, that give you a passion for life again. Short- and long-term goals. If you haven’t done this, make a list! You’ll be surprised at how helpful this is in bringing your purpose back again. If you can’t think of much, ask a friend or family member what they think your strengths are, or get ideas from someone who loves you and has a creative mind.
To help you with this, I’ve made you a free printable goal list with space for daily, monthly, and yearly goals. :) Make sure you add some fun goals!
This is a subscriber-only freebie. To download it, subscribe to my blog by scrolling down or clicking on the subscribe button in the sidebar!
Leave a comment: In what ways do you find your joy in life? I would love to hear your thoughts on this list.