We often think a joyful life is one that’s filled with fun and happy activities around the clock, and a quick scroll on our social media account does little to dispel this myth. We see Joe having a blast with his mates, Thea’s showing off the view from her office window, and Summer the labrador is having her “bestest day with her hooman” lounging under the sun (aww ❤).
Yes, we know whatever we see on social media isn’t real life, yet we still can’t help feeling cheated when we compare these reel highlights with our real life–where we’re stuck with a flatmate who has once again used up all the water, our pet’s sick after ingesting something it shouldn’t, and our boss has emailed us about yet another deadline.
While life isn’t meant to be a series of happy events, it also doesn’t mean we’re to live life with our lips pursed, as if it’s just another thing to suffer through till we meet our Creator.
Hop on to see what we can do to make life more joy-filled.
1. Know that joy is more than a happy feeling
The Psalmist wrote that joy is found in the presence of God, and in His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). So when we really think about it, joy is found in God alone. It’s knowing our place in God, that we are saved in Jesus, and nothing can change that fact. Joy is knowing that, despite the brokenness and disappointments on earth, we can anticipate heaven.
When we’re able to truly understand how joy comes from God, then our feelings need not stand in the way of us knowing true joy.
2. Learn to be bored sometimes–it’s not always a bad thing
Sometimes our days can be mundane, and we think, “Oh this is not right. We must be doing life wrong”. Most of us have come to a stage where we aren’t good at being bored, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves when boredom hits.
Boredom can be a chance to rest and notice the little things around us–the daisies growing beside our homes, the ducklings out on a wee walk with their mum, or to marvel at the colour of the evening sky.
Other times, feeling bored may also be our internal compass telling us we’re made for meaning and purpose and reminding us to rethink some of the things we’ve been doing (or not doing).
It’s tempting to want to drown that bored feeling with more Netflix and social media, but we need to instead ask God to help us process what’s behind our boredom–could it be a lack of gratitude, a sense of entitlement, or a need for growth?
3. Try something new or different
Aside from the usual work, eat, sleep, repeat, we can inject some colour into our days and lives by doing something new. It can be as easy as signing up for classes with a community school, inviting a new neighbour/colleague out for food, or if you are really brave, dining out alone in a nice restaurant (bonus: no need to share our food!).
Pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone can help us broaden our perspectives and make us realise there’s just so much more out there beyond the confines of our four walls. We get to interact with people with different ideas, see how others live, and develop new skills.
Most importantly, we know that God wants us to grow and mature in character and faith, and so in order to embrace the changes He wants to accomplish in us, we need to learn to stay consistently open to newness and change.
4. Build meaningful relationships beyond social media
Too often we get sucked into our work and daily routines, and along the way we forget how precious close-knit friendships are (remember when we were kids and had the one best friend?) and even how valuable time with family can be.
We can start by building a deeper relationship with our existing network of friends. Not that we have to suddenly text everyone on our contact list, but carefully select those we’d like to get to know better, or to reconnect with. We can phone them for a good old-fashioned chin wag, and from there, move on to coffee dates, gym sessions together, or an afternoon of baking.
A lasting friendship isn’t going to be built immediately over an hour-long chat, so be sure to keep checking in with friends after–send a simple message to see how they’re going or a follow-up invite to another outing. Let’s cultivate meaningful relationships to truly encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
5. Think back to all the good God has done for you
Life may seem a bit joyless right now. We are tired, worried, and feel like we can’t keep our chins up anymore, and God seems to be stuck in a heavy traffic jam coming to our rescue.
But one way we can bring joy back is to remember how far God has brought us. If we would spend time reflecting on how God held us in that painful breakup, how He was with us in that gruelling exam, and how His steady hand guided us over a period of uncertainty–we can see how faithful God really is.
In turn, this creates in us a sense of gratitude, which goes hand in hand with joy (Psalm 95:1-2, 1 Thessalonians 5:18). In all this, we are assured that the God who was with us in the past is the same God who is with us now.
Ultimately, true joy is found in God, who fills us with “more joy than when grain and new wine abound” (Psalm 4:7).
So, as good as it is to challenge ourselves to try a new hobby, grow a stronger relationship with our friends, or even learn to be bored, may we remind ourselves that Jesus promises us real, everlasting joy when we abide in His love (John 15:10-11).