5 Tips to Maintaining Your Joy

The end of the year is upon us and Christmas is less than two weeks away. Many are hustling and bustling about with parties, shopping and wrapping up not only gifts, but the year at the office as well. Others may be dealing with a health issue, a job loss or a difficult relationship. Where is Joy amidst my circumstances you may ask?

Perhaps Mary asked the same question so many years ago when she, bursting with the child of God within her womb, sat upon a donkey and made the long, strenuous journey to Bethlehem to fulfill the census. Tired, in pain, and uncertain about the future she obeyed the angel of the Lord and submitted to God’s plan for her life. Sometimes life involves circumstances that try to steel our joy, but the good news is: we don’t have to let them.

This week I’m sharing on some techniques I use to maintain my joy. When things are most challenging, it’s easy to lose track of what’s really important and to keep my focus where it should be, I start each week in Advent with the lighting of the Advent candle and meditate on the gift of Christ for that week. This week the focus is on Joy.

So how can we be more joyful during times of peak stress? Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that help me keep my joy level up and my stress level down.

1. Learn to say that two-letter word “NO”. I only accept offers and invitations my heart is into. Say NO to everything else.

2.  Ditch the guilt.  When I say NO, I am being loving by being true to my values. I don’t need to feel guilty for declining an invitation, not sending Christmas cards or not baking a gazillion cookies. If I feel stressed doing something, it’s just not worth it.

3.  Look at the big picture. I ask myself this question “What’s really important here?” When the stress level rises, it is easy to get bent out of shape over trivial things. Our logical brains go haywire and we can’t think straight. By stepping back and refocusing on the big picture, I can find joy in any situation and act in a loving manner.

4. Overlook people’s mistakes. We are all human. People won’t always be on time, say the right thing, or give the perfect gift. Let things go quickly and don’t dwell on what someone said or did that really won’t matter tomorrow anyway. Focus on the positives of your friends and relatives.

5. Learn to lighten up. Make people laugh. Tell a funny story and a joke that doesn’t offend anyone. Laughter raises the joy level. When tensions rise, making someone laugh is a good way to diffuse the situation.

With a little forethought, it is possible to keep our joy during peak seasons. I’ve shared some tips I hope will help you keep your joy not only during the holidays but every day. Write me and share the techniques you use to maintain your joy.

Until next time, keep your focus on the true gifts of Christmas. Share the joy and above all, keep looking up!

How Important Is It?

Gas prices. Traffic. Gaining a few pounds. Having a fight with your significant other. Stress from the job. Not having a date on saturday night. Getting older. The list of things that irritate us can go on and on, can’t it? What’s bothering you these days?

Many people like to complain. They complain about the weather, their spouse, the health care system, their aches and pains, ya da ya da ya da. We can always find something to complain about. But what’s the point? Complaining only gives life to that which annoys us and makes us relive it one more time.

Now, I am not saying deny reality. We do have to deal with situations that are unpleasant, that is for sure. But, do we have to dwell on them? It’s bad enough we have to live them one time, but to talk about it again and again only makes us more miserable. Instead of complaining, why not do something about the situation?

A phrase from Al-Anon that I find helpful is to ask myself the question,”How important is it?” Most of the stuff that annoys us is pretty trivial in the big scheme of things, isn’t it? When it comes to life or death of a loved one,now that is important.

As I said to my youngest the other day, life will always have positives and negatives. It’s up to us which we will focus on. We can choose to focus on the good things that happen to us during the course of the day or the bad things. It is a choice we all have to make, whether we realize it or not. What we focus on determines the level of joy in our lives.

So, if you have lost the joy in life, try listening to yourself and see what you’re focusing on. Are you dwelling on the negatives or the positives in your life?

As for me, I like to remember the verse from Phillipians that encourages me to think on things that are pure, noble, and of good report. The Apostle Paul knew the secret to maintaining his joy and he had a very rough time, don’t you think?

Until next time, keep smiling and keep looking up!

What’s Stealing Your Joy?

Having a tough week? Job stress, no time to exercise or perhaps you had a run in with a loved one? Maybe your favorite celeb didn’t win on “Dancing with the Stars”.

So many things can happen in the course of a day that can steal my joy, if I allow them to. This week has been particularly challenging. Without going into the gory details, let’s just say I felt like everything was coming at me at once. “It looks like it’s going to be another one of those days” I remember saying to myself on monday. Well, tuesday and wednesday have had their challenges as well.

But, I’m still smiling. Yesterday, I went for a massage and relaxed. Today, I took a walk at lunch and enjoyed the chirping of the birds outside as I took a different route. Later in the afternoon, I turned on the radio for a bit, and one of my favorite songs came on – “Love you like a love song” by Selena Gomez. I started dancing around my living room right smack in the middle of the day!

Sometimes just stepping away from it all helps break the pattern of stress. Taking a walk, listening to music, making a nice dinner; all these help me keep my joy.

I also talk to myself. I remind myself of the truths I believe in. “Lord, you are in control of everything in my life. This might not look like a good thing to me, but I know you can work it out for my good. I will take responsibility for my decisions and actions. I will trust you and be glad today.” I will forget what happened at work this afternoon, what happened on monday, and I will live in the present moment. I will enjoy taking a warm shower and sitting out on my balcony with my cup of hot tea.

Joy is an indispensable commodity, as far as I’m concerned. Life just isn’t worth living if I can’t be joyful most of the time. Yes, we are all going through difficult situations and I’m not minimizing what some of you are going through right now. But, I have learned that the tough stuff will keep on coming. It is up to me to decide how each situation will affect me and how I will respond to it. The quicker I can let go of unhappy, negative thoughts, the more I can enjoy my life.

How about you? Is there something you are dwelling on that is making you miserable? Can you step outside of your situation and believe that perhaps there may be a silver lining to it in the long run? I can almost guarantee that there is.

Don’t let life steal your joy. Make a decision to be happy and enjoy each day for the gift it is. That’s why they call it “the present”. Until next time, keep smiling and keep looking up!

Do You Have Time for Joy?

This is the third sunday of Advent which is commemorated to celebrating joy. As we get closer to Christmas, I light the pink candle on my Advent wreath, which reminds me of the angels singing songs of joy pronouncing the birth of Christ.

But when I look around, it seems to me like everybody is in a bad mood and stressed out. Why is that? I know there’s a lot to do. I know the weather is freezing cold outside. I know many of us are getting sick, have allergies, and aches and pains. I know work pressures can be extra heavy with year end duties. I know because I am experiencing the same things.

But is any of that a reason to lose our joy? As I watch the pink candle glowing, I am reminded that no matter what is going on around me or in me physically, God is still with me. Emmanuel means “God with us”. He promises never to leave me or forsake me, and He is my closest friend. He will take care of everything that concerns me and I can trust that things will all work out for my good. Now that is something to be joyful about!

If you are struggling with the busyness and stress of this season, take a few moments to light a candle. Breathe, relax, and let the tension drain from your mind and body. Perhaps you may want to read a favorite verse or two of scripture to clear your mind. Instead of focusing on your to do list, give the list to the Lord, and focus on joy this week. Notice how you feel. Go ahead and relax and smile, and let your joy be contagious! It’s a great gift to give others and it’s free!

Do You Have Time for Joy?

This is the third sunday of Advent which is commemorated to celebrating joy. As we get closer to Christmas, I light the pink candle on my Advent wreath, which reminds me of the angels singing songs of joy pronouncing the birth of Christ.

But when I look around, it seems to me like everybody is in a bad mood and stressed out. Why is that? I know there’s a lot to do. I know the weather is freezing cold outside. I know many of us are getting sick, have allergies, and aches and pains. I know work pressures can be extra heavy with year end duties. I know because I am experiencing the same things.

But is any of that a reason to lose our joy? As I watch the pink candle glowing, I am reminded that no matter what is going on around me or in me physically, God is still with me. Emmanuel means “God with us”. He promises never to leave me or forsake me, and He is my closest friend. He will take care of everything that concerns me and I can trust that things will all work out for my good. Now that is something to be joyful about!

If you are struggling with the busyness and stress of this season, take a few moments to light a candle. Breathe, relax, and let the tension drain from your mind and body. Perhaps you may want to read a favorite verse or two of scripture to clear your mind. Instead of focusing on your to do list, give the list to the Lord, and focus on joy this week. Notice how you feel. Go ahead and relax and smile, and let your joy be contagious! It’s a great gift to give others and it’s free!

Speaking of Joy

How are you holding up these days? Seems to me many of us are going through some tough times especially with all this snow we’ve been getting and the economy being in a slump. Or maybe you’ve picked up a few pounds since the holidays, or as in my case, you’ve got this annoying cough and headache that just won’t quit. Whatever it is, we’ve all got something that irritates us, don’t we?

I keep repeating to myself, “Patricia, this is a test. Don’t let the enemy catch you off guard. Keep your peace.” It’s like I want to run away and hibernate from the rest of world until spring comes. People are so grouchy these days.

Scripture says the “enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour”(1Peter 5:8). We must be especially on guard when we’re feeling rough not to let our negative feelings cause us to react to others in a hurtful or retaliatory way. It is easy to love those who are kind, but the challenge is to love those who are unkind to us, right?

The enemy’s goal is to steal our joy and our peace because if we are not joyful and at peace, we cannot be a witness for the Lord. A simple test is to ask myself “Am I walking around with a frown on my face or a smile?” Today, let the joy of the Lord show in your face and remember “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Speaking of Joy

How are you holding up these days? Seems to me many of us are going through some tough times especially with all this snow we’ve been getting and the economy being in a slump. Or maybe you’ve picked up a few pounds since the holidays, or as in my case, you’ve got this annoying cough and headache that just won’t quit. Whatever it is, we’ve all got something that irritates us, don’t we?

I keep repeating to myself, “Patricia, this is a test. Don’t let the enemy catch you off guard. Keep your peace.” It’s like I want to run away and hibernate from the rest of world until spring comes. People are so grouchy these days.

Scripture says the “enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour”(1Peter 5:8). We must be especially on guard when we’re feeling rough not to let our negative feelings cause us to react to others in a hurtful or retaliatory way. It is easy to love those who are kind, but the challenge is to love those who are unkind to us, right?

The enemy’s goal is to steal our joy and our peace because if we are not joyful and at peace, we cannot be a witness for the Lord. A simple test is to ask myself “Am I walking around with a frown on my face or a smile?” Today, let the joy of the Lord show in your face and remember “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)