Tuesday, December 1, 2009

PTGW Part Nine: Learning to Have a Joyful Spirit

"Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!" 1 Chronicles 16:10
"Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10b
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Lately I have been realizing how important it is to enjoy your life, and to rejoice in the Lord. Now this does not mean that we have to ignore anything uncomfortable or bad that happens, or that we have to walk around with plastic smiles on our faces all the time. What is does mean is that we need to find our joy in the Lord, and not have it be dependent on silly things (like whether it is sunny or cloudy, whether someone in our family has a bad attitude or not, etc). Right now I'm not going to talk about big things that happen (like a death in the family, or a debilitating physical problem) or how to deal with them, but instead I will be concentrating on a few ideas of how we can encourage ourselves to enjoy life, in spite of the little annoyances that can so often steal our joy.
Now before I begin, let me say that out of all of the things that I have heard men say are attractive in a woman, the most common and prevalent thing by far is a joyful spirit. A genuine enjoyment of life in Jesus. A smile and a joyful attitude can make even a very plain woman extremely attractive and beautiful. And we need to start by blessing our families with a joyful spirit.
So here are a few ideas of how to get and keep a joyful attitude.

1. Pray that God would give you a Joyful Spirit. This is obviously the most important thing. Without His help, none of us are very nice to be around. ;-)

2. One idea is to make yourself something to remind you to be cheerful. I often find that when I am not cheerful, it is because I simply forget to work on it. (I know, "I forgot" is the worst excuse ever, but sometimes you really do forget, and it can be helpful just to be reminded.) One thing that I did was that I made up a little piece of paper that I kept in my pocket to remind me to have a joyful spirit. Believe it or not, it REALLY helped! Of course, most dresses don't have pockets, so you can make a bracelet or necklace or something instead.

3. Deal with little annoyances as they come up. Don't let things build up inside of you. One of the worst things in a wife or sister is the tendency to let little things build up, build up, build up and then suddenly explode in a yelling or screaming fit. But you can avoid this if you pray about things as they happen, forgive people as they hurt you, breathe deeply and release your tension. Remember and put into practice Philippians 4:6-7 (my favorite verses) "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

4. It is ok to pretend to be cheerful even if you don't always feel like it. Now this doesn't mean fake smile, thinly veiled annoyance... and it is not an excuse not to deal with things that are bothering you. What it does mean is that you should answer your mother cheerfully when she asks you to do something, even if you are growling inside (and then you should pray about that 'growly-ness'). It also means that you do not have to burden your family with every moment that you are 'out of sorts'. Just smile. Practice makes perfect. :-)

5. If you find yourself having a particularly hard time, take a moment to pray, breathe, and maybe make a little list of things that you are thankful for. (This can be especially helpful if you are having trouble with one particular person. Make a list of things you are thankful for about them... and then give it to them if you'd like! For example... my brother, who is nearest to the water jug at supper, cheerfully fills everyone's glasses all throughout supper without complaining. that is something I am really thankful for about him. My sister cleans and vacuumes every single day, and really blesses our family with a clean house. My other sister is always ready with a hug and a kiss if someone is having a hard day. She can spot a tear from a mile away and comes running to help that person feel better. Pray before you make the list, because when you are having a difficult time with someone, it is extremely easy to only see their faults, and there are plenty of faults if you look hard enough, and it takes Jesus to help you be able to see the beautiful ways that they bless you.)

6. Don't focus on the negative. My Mom says that there are always two ways to look at something. If there is a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, you can look and see how people never clean up after themselves, or you can thank God that you have food to eat and a family to share it with.

7. Go for a walk. This will help you get your blood flowing and help you feel awake and more cheerful.

8. Avoid or limit sugar... (I'm sorry, people say that I bring nutrition into everything, but it is true, what you eat really does effect you.) Sugar makes people irritable, and that is something we want to avoid. :-)

9. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. I am a firm believer in getting enough sleep for helping with an attitude that is not always the best.

10. Do fun things that you enjoy. Don't let yourself just work all the time (I am not a believer in 'I need me time', but I do think that doing fun things is a good idea). And don't fool yourself into thinking that if something is going to be fun it has to be big or expensive. Paint your nails with your little sister (or by yourself). Have a tea party. Dress up. Turn on some music and dance. Sing while you work. Brainstorm things that you like to do, make a list, and then DO THEM!!! :-)

11. Help someone else. I often find that nothing helps me more than doing something kind for someone else.

12. Read your bible. (Hey, and while you're at it, take a look in Proverbs and see how many times it talks about how Unattractive the Opposite of a joyful spirit is... for starters take a look at Proverbs 21:9, 21:19, 25:24, and 27:15.) :-)

Well, I hope that this has been helpful to you. Remember, no one wants to be around someone who is crabby or irritated all the time. Being joyful will help you to have better friendships, relationships, and a better life. You will find that you enjoy life more, and that others enjoy you more.
As always, if anyone has anything to add to this, I would love to hear it! :-)

8 comments:

Beth Ann said...

Another wonderful post. Thank you Joy, this is really good advice! I am never nearly as joyful as I should be..need to work harder at it and ask God for His help.

Hannah L. said...

Thanks so much, Joy!
Oh, goodness--I had a lot of trouble with this. I'm naturally somewhat serious, having a melancholy-phlegmatic father, for those of you who are familiar with the four character types. Once I learned that I was melancholy, my brain sort of took that and made it into an excuse for doing things like not smiling, not responding cheerfully to my mother, and just being a grump. "I'm a melancholy," I said. But the Holy Spirit began to convict me of my sorry attitude, and I got proactive and wrote mini-quotes and Bible verses on my dry erase board. I worked on smiling at people even when I didn't want to. And now, I love smiling and being as much of a cheer to other people as I can. I'm still a melancholy--but not a grump.

God bless!
~Hannah

Amber said...

Sometimes I don't want to smile, or answer nicely, but this is encouraging to do those things.
Thank you! I love the posts you write.
Take care...
Amber

Joy said...

Hello Ladies!
I'm so glad that this post was helpful. :-) I wrote it to myself more than anyone, as this is something that I have trouble remembering to do! :-)
Keep smiling! ;-)
Joy

Rose said...

I really enjoyed this post! This is my first time to see this blog but i will continue to read it! God Bless! ~Rose~

SinginginHisName said...

what a wonderful post! I have struggled with this lately and some of these things I have tried implementing already and others are great ideas to help bring joy and keep it there! thanks for the advice! I have seen that reading my Bible, not being negative, and helping others really does help in being joyful in the Lord! I enjoy your blog and read it when you post new things. I just started my own blog too.

wsxwhx656 said...
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Anonymous said...

Joy,

I feel stuck and I would love your help!

I am a 19-year-old daughter of wonderful parents, but they have supported me to follow the world's cookie cutout for life; public school, and now I find myself at a huge secular university. I believe God wants me here now, and I have tried to live out my faith here, but tonight I was convicted of subtle compromises I have made without even realizing it. I find myself the somewhat close friend of a gay man, crushing on men when I shouldn't be, and surrounded by so much worldliness that I forget about God. I am not joining these people but not standing against/reaching out to them either. I want God to reign more in my life, but it feels like swimming upstream at a secular university (to be expected) and I don't know where to start. Specifically, how do I behave with non-christian friends (who I have inevitably made here)? Or even friends who are christian but have compromised like I have? How do I tell them I want to change, that I need to take God more seriously in everything that I do? I mean, if I were at home, it would be so much easier to live my faith, serving my parents and family; it is my comfort zone. But here, God's law is turned upside down. I have been praying about it, and I would love your thoughts!