It’s not easy to keep your joy when everywhere you look there’s trouble, bad news and hurting people. Sometimes, we can get overwhelmed by the trials of life, and finding joy in the midst of trouble can seem impossible.
But instead of letting anxiety and fear control us, there are things we can do to stir up joy and hope. Hebrews 10:24 says “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” Sometimes, we also have to intentionally stir up joy inside us. Here are seven simple ways to ignite joy:
1) Smile and Laugh Out Loud!
Your face uses more muscles to frown than to smile, so smile! And when your smile lights up a smile on someone else’s face, it brings joy to you both.
With endless technology at our fingertips, sources of comedy are just a few clicks or swipes away. Find a funny show or favorite comedian and enjoy some good laughs. Recently, my family and I have rediscovered the humor of old televisions shows like I Love Lucy. Many of these older TV shows are not only full of good, clean humor but also silly scenarios that can bring about deep “belly laughter”.
After God rescued the children of Israel from captivity, they declared, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. … The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad” (Psalm 126:2,3). When we remember God’s blessings, provision, and restoration in our own lives, joy and laughter are inevitable.
2) Music Cheers the Heart
Whether you consider yourself a singer or not, making a joyful noise, whistling or humming a song will stimulate joy inside. Tune your radio to a Christian station, play some worship music on your phone, or pop in a praise CD, and sing along.
Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.” If you play an instrument like the guitar or piano, sing to the Lord as you play your instrument. Or if you play a woodwind or bass instrument, turn on a song and play along by ear, and invite the presence of God into your music and into your situation.
Turn up a fun, powerful praise song and dance before the Lord. Psalm 149:3 says, “Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.” Dancing before the Lord is sure to trigger joy.
3) An Attitude of Gratitude
When we focus on all the things in our lives that we are thankful for, it’s hard to feel disheartened. Grab a pen and paper and jot down 10 things you are thankful for. You will probably find that you can jot down a lot more than 10!
Resist the urge to look at how you wish things were, and choose to be grateful for what you have. You may not have a perfect life, but when you stop and consider it, you’ll find that there’s a lot to be thankful for. Listing 10 things per day in a journal that you are thankful for can change your overall outlook and attitude.
In Psalm 51:12, David admitted to losing his appreciation for God’s salvation in his life: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” When we forget how far God has brought us and all that He’s done for us, we can lose our joy too.
David declared in Psalm 103, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases.” Intentionally consider and remember the goodness of God toward you and your family, and joy is sure to follow.
4) Joy in His Presence
So many times, people look for happiness and fulfillment apart from God. They may find some happiness, but it will be a temporary or pseudo-happiness that isn’t consistent. In Psalm 16:11, David reveals where true joy comes from: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Regularly spending personal time with God and enjoying His presence is key to cultivating joy in life. At church we can worship and enjoy God’s presence which strengthens us for the week, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
5) Declare It!
Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.” Sometimes, in order to overcome worry, anxiety or depression, we must open our mouths and shout to God.
Even in the midst of pain, struggle or defeat, if we will declare aloud that we trust the God of heaven and earth, joy and hope will begin to develop. In spite of whatever you are facing, you can rejoice because you are trusting God to work all things for your good (Romans 8:28).
6) Be a Blessing
I’m not a farmer, but I do know that if you sow corn you won’t reap broccoli. Galatians 6:7 reminds us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
If you need some joy, go bring some joy to someone else. Look around and see whom you can bless, and before you know it, joy will flood into your own life. Sometimes to get joy, you have to give it away first.
7) Spend Time With Friends
Throughout the New Testament, writers like Paul and John often talked about how the people in their lives brought them joy. When they spent time with special friends, they were filled with joy. In 2 John 1:12, John wrote, “Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.”
Spending time with friends who build you up and encourage you is a great way to stir up joy. Meet someplace for coffee or ice cream or go on a walk together through the park. Either way, spend time with people who are enjoying their lives and can help you do the same.
Finally, Proverbs declares, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” A joyful heart is like medicine that heals and brings life, but without joy, we feel broken down and weak. Joy is the antidote to a dry, broken spirit. With these seven strategies, even if we don’t feel joyful, we can take a step toward developing it.
~ by Jennell Houts