Fight for Joy
Some days I wake up and I just feel unhappy. Discontent. Frustrated. Nit-picky.
Those are the days when criticism drips so easily from my tongue and complaining becomes my native language. Those are the days when my temper rises and exhaustion trumps self-control.
Those are the days when I have to make a concentrated effort— a deliberate choice— to not slip down into the bottomless pit of negativity and self-centeredness.
Those are the days when I have to pull out my journal and grab a pen or open up the file called “Gratitude” in the Evernote app on my phone and start typing. I must literally list out the things for which I am grateful. In that moment, I have to choose to stop my negative mind-speak and walk a different path.
I start listing out whatever brings me joy in that very moment.
Yesterday, as I was driving, I had to remind myself that, though intensely frustrated that I wasn’t doing what I had originally planned and been looking forward to, at least I was grateful to be wearing comfy workout pants. And although I had originally hoped my day was going to be spent a different way, at least I was grateful that I had shoes that fit. And a vehicle that worked. And food in my belly. And I was grateful for the blue sky. And that I had a bottle of water nearby. And for the raspy voice of my little three-year-old who, though ridiculously adorable, tends to drive me batty with his constant energy and nonstop chatter. And I was grateful that I woke up with breath in my lungs. And that my children were healthy.
It may not seem like much, but that simple listing of blessings, that simple act of tuning into my present and noticing those “normal” gifts, helped give me a little space to breathe. It helped give me a little boost out of the doldrums. It helped kickstart my attitude in a better direction.
And today, as I felt the discontent grappling its way into my consciousness yet again, I paused to grab that list again and jotted this down:
Today I am grateful for:
- Waking up before everyone and escaping to the hills
- Being courageous enough to ask my husband for the gift of an early morning hike
- The feeling of tall weeds brushing past my fingertips as I walked along the path in the hills
- My recent time spent with a dear friend I hadn’t seen in a few years
- The blessing of being able to encourage a friend through a simple text message yesterday
- My community of friends and how life-giving they are
- The sound of birds tweeting and chirping in the trees nearby
- The “rainbow sherbet sunrise” I was able to witness this morning
- The moon still hanging in the bright blue sky
- A mutually-transparent conversation with a new friend
- This truth:
- A cool breeze on a warm day
- “You Alone” by Lauren Daigle
That’s one of the main ways I manage my crappy attitude, y’all. Super simple—yet that’s how I fight for joy in my own life when the negative insurgency of life is pounding at my door. That is how I try to make space for God to get a word in edgewise when all I’m hearing, loud and clear, are messages of self-pity, pessimism, and defeat.
It works for me. Most of the time, this simple habit is enough to at least rattle my brain and give me a modicum of new perspective.
What about you? What spiritual practices or habits do you employ to help keep your mind and attitude on a healthier, more positive path? How does God get your attention again?
I would love to hear from you. Please share your journey in the comment section below.