Happiness is the feeling you get when things are going well; it’s based on your circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep sense of pleasure, delight, gladness and well-being that is independent of circumstance. Shawn Lovejoy said it best when he said:
“Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, not a fruit of the circumstance.”
Joy flows from a deeply rooted conviction that not only does God cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him; but inherent in joy is the sense of delight in God that can cause our heart to smile even if things on the outside seem to be falling apart. With that being said, here are 5 simple and cost effective ways you can experience joy in your everyday life.
1. Practice gratitude every day.
We all know that gratitude means thankfulness. But what does it mean to “practice” gratitude? The Oxford Dictionary says “to practice” means “to apply an idea, belief, or method” to your life. It also means “perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.”
Practicing gratitude goes beyond acknowledging the thing you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude means living in light of your gratitude. Are you grateful you have a job? Tell the Lord and then tell your boss. Are you thankful for your health? Steward it by taking a walk outside and looking around at the beauty of God’s creation. Has the Lord blessed you with deep friendships? Send them a text today and tell them you love them. Living your life in light of your blessings instead of thinking about all of the things you don’t have can turn your whole life around.
2. Live in the moment.
We tend to get stuck in one of two traps: reliving the past or imagining the future, and both will rob us of joy. It’s in the present that we receive God’s grace. Your past is fully forgiven, and only the Lord knows how your future will unfold. Psalm 118:24 says, “Today is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” So how do we do that?
Start by looking around and taking in what you see. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Find a way to enjoy God’s good gifts today. Notice your food. Smell the fresh air. Love the people God has placed in your life. God has already promised that his grace would be enough for us, and we can take him at his word.
3. Create beauty in your environment.
The research on the healing power of beauty is impressive. The experience of beauty in the natural world, in art, music, and literature, and in interpersonal relationships can serve a significant healing function in the pastoral counseling process, and this shouldn’t surprise us, because God is a god of beauty. In the creation account of Genesis one, after each day of creation God surveyed his work and said, “It is good.” The Hebrew word we’ve translated to “good” is “tov,” and “tov” also means “beautiful.”
What can you add to workspace that adds beauty? What can you add to your yard or your home to make your space pleasant? Since beauty is subjective, you can get creative.
4. Host a one-person worship party.
The book of Psalms is the longest book in the Bible. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. According to Bob Kauflin, “The Bible contains over four hundred references to singing and fifty direct commands to sing.” Zephaniah tells us that God, himself, sings over his people (Zeph 3:17). When the mouth sings, the soul rejoices. So turn on your favorite worship music, turn up the volume, and “sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:19).
5. Insist on doing three fun things a week that require no phones.
Remember how good you were at having fun as a little kid? Running around the neighborhood, riding bikes, playing games—children prioritize fun, and we seem to lose that skill as adults. God has mandated that his children must stop working one day a week to make room for rest and play. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the soul.” Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is 3:4 reminds us that there is a time for laughter.
What if we got serious about unplugging from technology and plugging into pleasurable experiences with people we love? God created us so that he could set his love upon us and bless us, and part of that includes the blessing of “fun.” Life includes trials and hardships, mourning and striving. But in the midst of the difficulties, we can find joy and laughter.