A new year often brings New Years resolutions. Many people make them, and while few keep them, the idea of making commitments to improve your life is a good one. Resolutions are often about our personal health like losing weight or becoming more fit. Again, not a bad idea. Some may make commitments about their career. Maybe they want to pursue another level at their job or more education hoping that will result in a financial boost in income down the road.
But what about personal growth? What about growing in your joy? We all know that people of joy are much more fun to work with than people with no joy. And we personally feel better if we have joy inside as well.
Are you a person of joy? Do you share joy or do people sense a dark cloud over your head every time you walk by? What is it in your life that affects your Joy?
Our joy can be impacted by a number of things. If you always spend time with negative people, it will be hard to stay positive and maintain joy. It is not always possible to avoid spending time with negative people, especially if your co-workers or family are negative. What you can do, is choose to seek out and spend time with joyful people. If you have to look for them, then do that. Notice the people in life that make you feel just a bit happier and find ways to connect with them. You could even initiate a coffee date to deliberately spend some time with them.
Our joy may be impacted by the news. If you always consume the news, you will have to work at being full of joy because the news rarely shares positive stories. Make a commitment to cut down on how much news you consume. You might need to reduce your time on social media. Rather than cut these habits out completely, identify new habits that can take the place of the time you typically spend consuming new or other media
Some of us have a hard life. Things have not gone the way we hoped and dreamed. Our realities include single parenting, the loss of a child, or unemployment. The circumstances of our life can affect our joy. We can become sad, or discouraged, or even angry about what life has thrown at us. We look around and see happy people with good families and healthy children and perfect jobs and we get even more discouraged. The truth is, there are some things that we encounter in our life that are not good, terrible in fact. And yes, they drain all our joy. What can we do about that? I’ve been there, where I questioned God about what He was allowing to happen to me. I get it.
What do we do when we cannot change our life circumstances right now? How do we find joy?
One of the things that has helped me a lot is my faith in God. Yes, I said earlier that I have had times where I really questioned God, wondering if He really cared for me or not. But I have always come back to God because He and I have history together – a history of him being faithful in the past, and answering prayers. When I come back to God, I can trust Him to take care of me. I know that I am safe in His hands. I remember that He loves me, even when it seems others don’t. I remember that He has a future for me.
I can go to the Psalms in the Bible and receive encouragement there, that begins to open up the possibility of Joy again.
O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
Psalm 2: 12
What joy for all who take refuge in him!
You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Our joy can be affected by our circumstances. Sometimes we can change them, and then we should. Sometimes we can’t. I would encourage you to turn to God. Turn to the Bible. Read the psalms. And ask God to give you new Joy.
As you make commitments for personal growth this year, I encourage you to choose to develop more joy.
Keep looking up,