What are the little things that bring joy to you and your family? Sometimes we think there has to be a big dramatic thing in order for us to have joy or be happy. But sometimes it’s the little things that make us smile which are important.
As a child, I never thought about whether I was happy or not. I was just happy...or not. There wasn't a checklist associated with my happiness. I was fully focused on the little things that bring joy: friends, books, family...
But as I grew older I realized there were many
things associated with happiness: success, wealth, fame. In this age of social
media even things like your following on various platforms or the likes that
your posts receive have been sought as a way to be happy.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype but a life lived in Christ is what brings true happiness in life. And then there are the little things that bring joy…like fifteen minutes free to sneak in a few pages of the book you’re reading. Or, stopping long enough to notice a butterfly hovering over a flower or a sunrise or sunset. There are days when even five minutes in the bathroom without someone calling my name is a source for great joy for me…I told you…it’s the little things that bring joy.
Maybe you’re struggling to find joy in the little things. Or, maybe you’ve lost your joy and are wondering how to find your joy again. I get it. I really do. Sometimes life can drag at you and make you feel as though there’s nothing pleasurable or worth investing in. To make it worse, because we’re Christians, people assume that we have mastered the Pauline lifestyle and shouldn’t be affected by certain things.
I have a few suggestions to help you find your joy when things get hard.
1. Take a break. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or who you’re doing it for, if you’ve lost the ability to find pleasure in little things, you need to take a break. Think of it as a mini timeout. You’re no good to anyone when you’re burned out. So find a few minutes or hours to do something you enjoy doing.
2. Spend time in nature. Even if all you have are five minutes, go outside. Take a deep breath of air (I hope you live in a place where this will remind you of God’s goodness and not man’s unfaithful stewardship). Remember that everything in nature was created by a great God who thought of everything and put all things in place. For you.
3. Journal your thoughts. Write about what you’re struggling with. Jot down your thoughts or emotions. Make a list of things that used to bring you joy. And then, try each thing again and see if you can find our joy again.
Related: 5 Reasons for Self-Reflection
4. Read your favorite passages of Scripture. I hope you’re like me and have marked many verses in your Bible. Sit and flip through your Bible and take a few moments to read highlighted verses. Even if you don’t mark your Bible, I’m sure you have favorite ones. Go ahead and read them again. Remember who God is and how He loves you.
5. Be deliberate in your actions. Force yourself to slow down and take notice of the things that are happening around you. Allow yourself to be present in the moments so that you can appreciate them while they’re happening.
6. Turn off the distractions. We live in a world in which we are constantly being bombarded by messages. Everyone wants something from you or has something that you must have. Turn off your screens. Put your devices in another room. That means putting the phone when you’re eating or having a conversation; or choosing to read a physical book instead of an e-version. Give yourself a few minutes or hours of time when you are not being marketed to.
7. Take a catnap. A little goes a long way. In the past year or so, I’ve mastered the one-hour nap. When I feel exhaustion taking over and I’m no longer productive, I take a break. I force myself to close my eyes, turn off my brain and go to sleep. Maybe you need to set an alarm to wake you up, that’s okay. Or, maybe you will just lie and rest for the hour. Make it into a mini-spa break and put some cucumber slices over your eyes. Don’t eat them, it’s not a snack (unless that’s one of the little things that bring you joy…).
Trying to think of five things that make me smile, well, it made me smile. It was a long list because let’s be honest, we live in a world that was created by an artistic, inventive God. So many things tell of His glory and remind us of His love for us. Narrowing my list down to five was kinda tricky especially after I had the wonderful idea to share this post with my son.
So here they are—five things that make Ami and Dominic smile:
1. Ice-cream: There’s something about that creamy delicious taste that makes the edges of your mouth curl up. I mean like everything about ice-cream is just smile-worthy—the melt-in-your-mouth goodness, the crunchy ice-cream cone, the way you have to eat it so fast that it sometimes causes brain freeze…
2. Going to the beach: There’s a running joke in my house: once I’m home, getting me out is like prying a turtle out of its shell. One of the things that we Cootes like to do is go to the beach (okay, I made this one way too easy for you). Going to the beach means family time, it means relaxing with the two coolest people on earth and taking a little break from bills, books, and responsibilities.
But because going to the beach means leaving the house…my poor honey has a whale of a time trying to get me out and then voila!
I hit the water and become an instant mermaid—only it’s more of a floating mermaid and less of a swimming one. There’s nothing more relaxing than lying on your back and allowing the water to carry you along. (and singing “I’m sailing in the rain, just sailing in the rain, what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again.” Don’t judge me. This little thing brings me great joy.)
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid books: A memoir and a comic book rolled into one, what’s not to like? Greg Heffley has all kinds of adventures that are surprisingly funny as well as relatable. Who knew middle school was fraught with so much danger and intrigue?
My son has read all the Wimpy Kid books and is looking for a new series to fall in love with. But he re-reads them occasionally.
4. Stationery: Pens, paper, notebooks, sharpeners…so many cool things! A tiny portion of my salary is spent in this little store called Paper & Things—they are a treasure trove of little unique things and pretty paper and colored pens. My son also spends a fair amount of time in this little nook for paper and things.
5. Bible Study: There’s nothing more thrilling than digging into the Word and having a verse revealed to you in a new light. The Bible tells this awesome story of God’s love for us and the grace that is liberally bestowed upon us.
It never fails to put a smile on my face when I think of what God has saved me from and how far He has brought me and the change that has been made in my life. We serve a wonderful, wonderful God!
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Most times when we can no longer find pleasure in life it’s because we are burnt out from doing too many things. The world teaches that we have to be on the hustle at all times but God gave us the Sabbath because He wanted us to rest.
It’s okay to take a break. You were designed to take one-seventh of every week off so give yourself a break and spend a few moments learning how to appreciate the little things that bring joy.
I originally wrote this post on August 12, 2016, while I was participating in mrsdisciple.com Friday fives. The prompt was “Five things that make me smile”. I updated it and added a new section on how to find your joy again.
Linked up at #FridayFives #InspireMeMondays, #LifeofFaith