I’ve often found myself saying, “I’d be happy if _________.” The dreams, visions, and hopes which have filled that blank space are too numerous to count. Each filler becoming a stumbling block to today’s happiness.
God desires for us to dream big and hope against hope as we press toward those things He has for us, but the journey of our lives was never supposed to be devoid of joy. Joy isn’t an experience to be placed on the shelf, only to be enjoyed when a goal is achieved or a dream realized. Joy is a present gift. It is to be experienced often and sampled frequently.
Joy is God’s prescription for the stressed out and worn-out. It is His shelter for those feeling bruised by the emotional lashing of an unanswered prayer. It is His provision for those hungry to taste and feel his goodness during times when things are not going well.
As you brainstorm, strategist, and implement your life plan; the struggle is to avoid the mental drain of deferred joy. You must beware of the tendency to put off joy until you’ve obtained the next accomplishment, the next level, the next breakthrough. The key to not becoming battle weary and experiencing personal burnout is to regularly find moments of joy within the journey.
Joy builds up your defense against depression and gives you the energy to continue making forward progress. Joy reminds you of the small successes along the way. It encourages you to have a grateful heart and a thankful spirit. Joy refreshes, revives, and renews your soul.
If you are finding it hard to have joy in your journey, these 5 questions can help turnaround your situation by revealing reasons to be joyful today.
1. Who are the people you appreciate being a part of your life? How are they a blessing to you in this season of your life? Send that person a note or post on their social media page that you are happy they are in your life.
2. What current possessions (material, emotional, physical) are you thankful for? Are there positive attitudes you have now which you did not have 1,5, or 10 years ago? Are there any healthy physical changes you have made? Is there an outfit which makes you feel confident when you wear it? No need to reserve joy for the acquisition of further treasures, spend time regularly rejoice in those things you already have.
3. What qualities about yourself do you appreciate? You can often be your own worse critique. Learn how to celebrate yourself now for who you are and not just for who you are becoming.
4. In what ways are you better now compared to 5 years ago? Focus on those areas you have progressed in a positive way and analyze what occurred which helped you gain ground in that area. Use the knowledge obtained from this exercise to help you move forward in areas you find difficult.
5. What is there about the challenge/difficulty you’re currently experiencing that you can be thankful for? Finding something to be thankful for in the situation doesn’t mean you are thankful for the situation, but that you refuse to defer joy for a later date.
Nehemiah 8:10 says “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” When you are going through a difficult time you need daily strength, so make room for daily joy.
Saundra Dalton-Smith is an internal medicine physician, author, speaker, and hope activist. She shares with audiences nationwide on the topics of eliminating limiting emotions and helps them see their options in life. She is the founder of I Choose My Best Life, a movement to renew hope in a generation where depression, stress, and fear is peaking. Her books include Set Free to Live Free: Breaking Through the 7 Lies Women Tell Themselves (2011) and Come Empty: Healing For Every Place Life’s Hurt You (2015).