If you know anything about me you know I am a huge proponent of JOY. I learned long ago that I just couldn’t let things “steal my joy”. I said that so often that now my sons repeat it back to me. I see and experience Joy as a wonderful, intriguing and encompassing state of being. I don’t mistake joy with happiness because they are totally different. I touched on this a little in a past post, “It’s Not About Being Happy”. I could write and share about this and so many other “joy” thoughts, but today want to touch on two aspects – understanding your joy and protecting it. I have learned the importance of both.
Let’s talk about understanding first. We all have things in life that are totally unique to us that light us up. What makes me feel all warm and fuzzy or energizes me is totally different from that for you. Some of the things that fill me up are super simple, like a sunny day, a funny text from a friend, a good book, a sweaty workout, or a phone call from one of my boys. Other things are more complex, more time consuming, and come from deeper in my soul but bring peace, make me smile and sometimes almost feel giddy. These are the things that come from my faith, feeling secure and purposeful acts.
A couple of years ago a lot of things in my life changed and as I adjusted to change what I found interesting is that some of the things I used to do that fulfilled me just didn’t do it for me any longer. Some of the things I used to “do” now felt more like chores. What was up with that? That was a very odd discovery and I wasn’t quite sure what to think of that at the time. Here’s a simple example. I have always loved being outside (still do, that hasn’t changed) and wherever we lived I always found an area to carve out a garden, beds to plant, seeds, bulbs and flowers to nurture. Digging in the dirt and creating something outside was just one of my things. Until one day, I was buying plants, soil and new pots to bring some life to my new deck, coming home to begin the project, and found that it was a chore. It wasn’t the same. It wasn’t fun. I didn’t feel that same energy and inspiration as before.
I began noticing other things that I used to do that I thought had made me happy, but in this new season just didn’t do it for me. After a bit of wrestling with that, it was okay. My circumstances had changed and I had changed as my season had changed. It made sense that what would now fill me up, give me purpose and joy would also change. It can be freeing to know that just because something used to serve you or be good, doesn’t mean it always will. You don’t have to fight that. You can give it up . . . which will make more room for other things or for you to simply be.
Next, I want to tell you how important protecting your joy is. It is paramount for you health and wellbeing. When I say don’t let something steal your joy, I am not kidding. Especially now. We have so many competing forces swirling around that are negative, draining, complicated and just plain hard. Whatever you have that is yours and makes you smile, feel secure, warm and fuzzy or energized, wrap your arms around it and hold it tightly. Protect it.
It may not be easy and it may require you to make some decisions.
This is what I mean. I have a lot of things that bring me joy. Easy examples are reading a good book, walking my dogs, time with good friends, exercise, anything outdoors, painting, cooking a meal for someone, creative projects, and writing and sharing in this space. These are just a few. Sometimes though, to do the things that we want to do, we have to say no to something else – even if that something else is good and does bring joy. We simply have to prioritize.
These days there are things that I have to do, so I need to let other things go, even if those other things do bring me joy. Recently, you may have noticed I am writing here much less. And sharing here brings me a lot of joy – even if only one person reads and comments! If only that one person gets a little nugget of something positive then I am a happy girl. However, my time is more limited right now with work and another time consuming project so that I have to make intentional choices – and you may have to do the same as well. COVID may have changed your normal routine so maybe you are having to shift a bit in this season.
Even with a shift or a hard season, make sure you take some time to have a clear vision of the things that are important and need to be protected. Learn how to set a boundary, draw a line in the sand, and keep the important things that bring you joy in the forefront. It will be temporary or maybe your priorities will shift. Such as, if you are an introvert and need a bit of time to yourself, there’s no need to feel guilty about that. Maybe you have to say no to something else to carve out that time for yourself, and that’s okay. If your social media feed is not lifting you up, give it a big fat trim or set a timer to begin limiting your scrolling time. When the news is full of negative stories and controversy, you can turn it off or at least leave the room. I know your time is precious and you have responsibilities, so why waste it?
You may be in a hard season right now. I get it. That makes this even more important. COVID has brought us all into a season that we didn’t plan for and didn’t ask for. Let’s not let that rule us or dictate our joy.
Like anything, this might take a little work, but I am encouraging you to understand what really makes you joyful, carve out space for what fills you up, and protect it.
I’d love to know if you are already protecting your JOY and how.
That’s all for now . . .