Have you ever chosen a theme or a word to live by during the year? A good friend who has done this for years with her family inspired me to try it this year. With this in mind, I’d been thinking about a possible word or theme to focus on for 2021. Recently I heard a church leader speak on “Count it all Joy.” Immediately, I knew this would be my theme for the year.
Clearly 2020 was a challenge for all of us. A year of ups and downs, sorrows and pains, with changes that we would not have imagined just one year ago.
As 2020 came to a close, it was a time for me to reflect and ponder about what I had learned, how I had grown and the blessings I saw. Asking myself did I “Count it all Joy?”
In spite of these difficult circumstances this year, I did find that my life was filled with JOY! Indeed, I did find joy in EACH day!
My life has not been free from heartache, personal struggles and health concerns, but through it all I can “Count it all Joy.” I realize that I was born with an optimistic personality, yet even through great struggles and sorrows in my life I have been able to find joy.
Struggles with Depression
Let me put in a little disclaimer here. Clearly, I realize there are those around me who struggle daily with anxiety and depression. I don’t want to minimize the reality of their struggle each day.
Admittedly, I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with depression on a daily basis, but there are many in my family that this is the case. Clearly I don’t fully understand that constant struggle, however I’ve had a glimpse. Even with my optimistic personality, I once had an episode of deep depression that lasted for several months.
Yet in spite of this I believe that JOY can be felt daily by making daily choices that bring joy.
Count it all Joy Even Through Struggles
In this life we each have our struggles, trials and painful moments. Although they may drop us to our knees at times, I believe they are opportunities to learn, grow and progress. In fact, without the struggles I’ve been through I would not be the person that I am today.
With permission, I’d like to share the struggles and pains that my son, Alex and daughter-in-law, Megan have gone through.
They married and had a great desire to have a family. Having children was a top priority for them. After several years of infertility, they met with an infertility specialist and had great hopes that through in vitro fertilization they would have children.
In spite of 3 pregnancies through in vitro, they all resulted in miscarriages.
We have all shed tears for them. Not only would they be amazing parents, but they are kid magnets! At every family gathering they attract the kids. They are even 2nd parents to the children of their friends.
They could be bitter about their situation, bitter when a sister or friend becomes pregnant so easily, however they have not!
Let me share Megan’s words after the last failed pregnancy. “…we cried and yelled and prayed to understand. Then the answer came ‘I have more for you to do.’ What that means, I have no idea, or when this ‘more’ is coming. But I am grateful for prayer and answers. Even if it wasn’t the answer I thought I wanted. Also, I am so grateful for Alex. He is such a good support and I am grateful I get to spend my life and forever with him. I am glad that we like each other, because it looks like we’re all each other has.”
Tips for Creating a Joyful Life
How do Alex & Megan find joy in each day?
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Recently I read a book entitled Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. He writes that, “your life is made up of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual parts that make up every human being.” The physical relates to your body, health and energy. The intellectual includes your mind, intelligence and thoughts. Emotional incorporates your emotions, feelings and attitudes. The spiritual includes intangibles like your spirit, soul and an unseen higher power.
By focusing time on each of these areas you are transforming yourself into a better you each and everyday.
How do any of us do it? With this in mind, I’d like to share helpful tips to “Count it all Joy.”
Care of your Soul or Spirit
Beginning each day in thought and prayer brings a sense of purpose to my life. In order to do this, I set the alarm early before anyone is awake, which allows me to prepare myself for the day.
Next, I choose to read God’s word each morning. Clearly, this fills my heart and mind with positive thoughts that help me find purpose in my day and life.
If reading scripture is not for you, I would suggest reading an uplifting book that inspires you to be better. Something that encourages you to grow and be the best version of you.
Begin each day feeding your spirit.
Physical Self Care
Along with taking care of the soul or spirit, it’s also important to care for our physical bodies.
While I have always struggled with my weight, I have learned what makes my body feel good. In fact, up until about 11 years ago I was more than 100 lbs. overweight.
Nevertheless, I have learned and struggled through the years to find what works for me.
Along with making movement and some sort of exercise a part of everyday, I have also learned to make healthy choices with food.
As a result, I’ve learned that my body functions better and is happier if I stay away from refined sugar. Also I choose to eat whole foods, closest to its natural state. My diet is filled with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and I try (and I mean try, by no means am I perfect at this) but I try to stay away from refined foods in general. I didn’t do so well at this over the Christmas holiday. But I’m back at it and I’m feeling better.
Making movement and exercise a priority every day means that no matter the weather, rain or shine I walk. We are blessed to live in a beautiful mountainous area and I love getting out and enjoying the beauties around me as well as getting in a good workout.
It helps greatly to have a walking buddy or partner in your movement plan. As a result, I know she’s out waiting for me, so I had better show up. 😊
This truly rejuvenates me each and every day!
I believe that each of us was born to be creative in some way.
“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.” – Dieter Uchtdorf
The act of creating and creativity is one aspect of life that brings me happiness. One of the ways we bring joy to our lives is by creating things.
Everyone can create! We grow as we take ordinary objects and create a thing of beauty.
This does not necessarily mean the arts. It can be creating a thought, opinion, solutions, poem, story or even a meal.
What you create does not need to be perfect. Don’t let fear or failure discourage you. This is for you, for your joy.
Recently I was helping with an acrylic painting activity with the youth at our church. My heart ached for one of the boys who held a paint brush in his hand for over 30 minutes before he touched his canvas. He was too worried about making a mistake. I assured him that there are no mistakes in art, just put that paint on the canvas and express yourself.
Each one of us is unique and we all create different things. In fact, this is the definition of create: to cause something unique to come into being.
Without a doubt, I’ve had many failures along the way, but if we analyze and see how we could improve it’s all for our benefit and joy.
If you find time to create and be creative each week you will bring added joy into your life.
How our home makes us feel can have a huge impact on the way we feel.
Take a walk through your home. What feelings do you get? Are you stressed? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Write these feelings down.
Then take action to improve the feeling in your home. This is not intended to overwhelm you, but little by little with small improvements your home can feel peaceful and bring you joy.
Grab a note book and write down one thing you can do and give yourself a date to have it accomplished by.
Then approach this improvement with a plan divided into small increments.
I like to set a timer for 10-15 minutes and see how much I can accomplish in that set amount of time. Little improvements over a period of time can make huge changes for you.
We need to live with intention, not perfection, but continually progressing. Don’t let life drive you, but you take control and be the driver.
I’m a big believer in a day planner. A place where you can mentally dump everything that’s in your head. I like to use Sunday evenings to plan out my week, look at my schedule and plan accordingly. I keep everything in this planner, from family commitments, to work projects and even my goals and personal items I’m working on. It’s all in one place.
At one point in my life I tried putting everything in my phone, but that didn’t work for me. The act of writing things down on paper is cathartic.
Planning saves time in the long run!
This time of year, I get the organizing bug! In fact, I want to go through everything and purge what we are not using. Simplify your life by ridding yourself of what you no longer love or use. If you’re not going to wear it share it!
Creating a home environment where you will feel joy each day may take time. And that is perfectly ok!
“Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness” – Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
Service to others is an amazing way to bring joy into your life.
These don’t need to be huge commitments serving in a charitable organization, good as that may be.
However, sometimes it’s those who are closest to us, our family and our neighbors who need a helping hand, a smile when they are feeling down, or just a listening ear.
Look for little ways today where you can make a difference in someones life. Smile, open the door for someone, say thank you, sincerely express your gratitude are all ways of serving. Serve someone today!
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that bring us the most joy.
Connecting with nature is a powerful way to de-stress and deflect some of the isolation we can feel through this year of social distancing.
Nature rejuvenates and delights our souls and brings joy.
Here are a few ways to enjoy nature:
- take a walk or hike
- go camping
- gather around a fire pit
- go on a picnic
- star gaze
- go bird watching
- get on the water – kayak, boat, fish
- go for a bike ride
- enjoy a sunrise or sunset
Practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives.
Actively expressing gratitude each day either verbally or written in a journal makes us more aware of the blessings around us and invites joy into our lives and into our homes.
A while back a friend dropped off a little gift with this quote, “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.”
Without a doubt, I firmly believe this! Actively practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives. Even when there is pain, struggles and heartache, with a grateful heart you will have joy.
Have you ever found that when you’re having a down day that a feel good song just lifts your spirits?
I definitely have my favorites to turn to when I want to pick up my mood.
Did you know that study after study shows the health benefits of singing? In fact, singing in a group reduces the stress hormone, cortisol.
In addition, researchers from McGill University found that the dopamine released while listening to music can trigger strongly positive emotions, including euphoria.
“Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.” –
In this modern world we live in, we are bombarded by more and more information. More information than we can or should handle.
As a result, I think we find more stress and anxiety from all the noise around us. Clearly we need to simplify!
How do we go about simplifying our lives? Clearly life is pretty complicated. Along with keeping up with family and friends, demands at work, and the financial challenges of life, we are bombarded with information.
Here are a few ideas to simplify:
- Unplug yourself from your phone. Set time away from the constant messaging and information.
- Follow a routine. Set-up for yourself a daily morning routine and stick to it.
- Invest in a crockpot. It’s an appliance we can’t live without. It makes busy evenings so much easier.
- Clean the kitchen as dinner cooks.
- De-clutter! Get rid of anything you do not use on a regular basis.
- Write everything down in a planner. Give yourself a brain dump.
- Write email to do tasks on paper. Sometimes they can seem overwhelming. Getting them written down and responding when you can will ease your mind.
- Slow down! It’s ok to say no. Sometimes I find I over commit myself. I need to be better at saying, I’d love to, but right now I can’t!
- Schedule free time! Yes, block out time for you to do nothing!
Count It All Joy FREE Printable
I’ve created a FREE printable for you to place in your home to remind you to “Count It All Joy.” Just click on the button below to get access to our Printable Library. You’ll find 2 options to choose from.
Posts That May Help Simplify and Bring Joy to your life
Every day we’re blessed to exercise our agency to choose and find joy. Recognize what brings you joy and then simply follow it. In particular, make room in your life that will bring you added joy into each day.
We’d love to hear from you. What brings joy in your life?
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WE HOPE TO BRING YOUR HOME TO THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET!