Live with Joy a Catholic Perspective
Tips to Help you Learn to Live with Joy
Did you ever sing the joy song when you were a child? “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy feeling down in my down in my knees, down in my toes…” The song leader would pick different body parts as we sang; we had joy in our heads, shoulders, elbows, knees, and toes. We finally sang, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy feeling down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.” As Catholic moms with little ones running around or teenage drama coming at you out of nowhere, do you feel joy in your heart every day? Sometimes it can be challenging to find and then hold onto true joy each day. You are not alone in this challenge. You can work to have the joy of God and our Catholic faith in your heart each day. Here are 7 tips to help you learn to live with joy each day.
1. Decide in the morning that you will have joy in your day.
Focus on today. Don’t think about yesterday or plan for tomorrow. Just think about today. Make a decision before you even get out of bed that you will have joy in your heart today.
To get in the mindset of anticipating and planning for joy, it may be helpful to think of things that you are greatful for. Perhaps you have a fun activity or a special dinner planned for the day. You may be greatful for your health, your family, indoor plumbing, a car that runs, the ability to see, to hear, to read, and for your gifts and talents. They can be things we often take for granted. When we think about them as gifts from God, they can be sources of joy in our lives.
Take a moment to thank God for the gifts and abilities you have. By being greatful for them, a next natural step is to have joy in them as well.
Decide that you will have joy in your day today. Plan for joy.
2. Decide how you will be joyful today.
Have you heard the expression, "love is a decision"? Joy is a decision, too. Decide to be joyful.
What will you be joyful about today? Is there something in your day that you know will bring you joy, like going to storytime at the library with your kids? Or, do you need to add something to your day that brings you joy, like sitting down for a few minutes to enjoy a cup of tea?
Plan for joy. Plan activities and moments that will bring you and your family joy today.
Decide how you will be joyful today, then do what you can to make it happen. If your plans don't work out exactly as you envision, that is okay. Don't let it ruin your day. Find the joyful moments and savor them.
3. Counteract negativity with joy.
Are there some negative situations that occur in your days with regularity that you find yourself reacting to negatively? If so, think of new, joyful responses instead. For example, if your toddler child tends to get really cranky at a certain time of the day, think of a joyful response to him instead of a frustrating response. If you have a knee-jerk automatic negative response to a snarky comment your teenager tends to say often, think of a joyful response instead-something you can say or do that brings some joy instead of adding more negativity.
When you counteract negativity with joy, you prevent the negativity from getting to you as much. Your joyful response is like a shield protecting you from the arrows of negativity and preventing them from penetrating deeper into your heart, weighing you down even more emotionally.
This is not always easy. It can take time and practice. But, don't give up. Pray for God's help and guidance and trust in Him that He will help you. Then, keep responding with joy. Be persistent and it will come more naturally to you. The joy you bring to each situation will help others as well. They will see your joy and may be less negative themselves, or copy your techniques to respond to negativity with joy.
4. Ask God to help you to live with joy today.
God is love. He wants us to love one another and be joyful. Psalm 118:24 reads, "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad." We are called to recognize the goodness of God and to rejoice.
Ask God to help you to have joy in your day: to seize joy and hold on to it when you encounter it and to create joy in your day. When you ask God to help you to have joy, you are asking Him to help you, His beloved child, to have something good in your life. You will be more open in your day to notice joy-you will be on the lookout for it. Oftentimes, we see what we want to see. When you want to see joy, you are more likely to find it than if you look for negativity when you really want joy.
Every morning and throughout the day, ask God to help you to have and recognize joy in your day. Remember, "all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father" James 1:17a. Joy is certainly a good gift!
5. Track your joy.
Have you ever tracked a habit before? Tracking a habit means keeping track of when you do it. Let's say you want to exercise three times a week. Every day you exercise you put a checkmark on your calendar so you can keep track of how often you are exercising so you achieve your goal.
You can track your joy, too, just like a habit. At the end of the day, ask yourself if you felt joy or how often you felt joyful during the day. You can put a checkmark on your calendar or keep a journal where you write down they joyful experiences of the day. A journal will also be a nice keepsake you can enjoy going back to and rereading in the future.
Keeping track of your joy each day will help you to see how you are doing. Are you successful in experiencing joy each day? Great! Keep it up. Are you struggling to experience joy each day? Find out why. Decide what you can do to change your mindset and/or add joy to each day. May a plan to encounter joy and stick with your plan.
6. Thank God for helping you to experience joy today.
When you ask God to help you to have and to recognize joy in your day, don't forget to tell Him thank you. You can say thank you to God at the end of the day, recounting your joyful moments to Him.
You can also thank Him for your joyful moments before they occur; trust in God to help you to have joy in your day and thank Him in advance for the joy you will have. Trust in Him and have faith in yourself to recognize and create joy in each day.
7. As a Catholic, finding joy in each day is like a prayer.
As Catholics, we have so many causes for joy in our lives with our faith. We have the fullness of the Mass and the sacraments which are joyful events we can participate in frequently. We have the Bible and prayer to turn to as well.
Planning for joy and recognizing joy each day is like a prayer to God, showing Him we are thankful for the life He has given us. What better reason to have joy in our day than to do so to show God how thankful we are to Him for all the gifts He has given to us?
Learn to live with joy each day.
If experiencing or finding joy is challenging for you, turn to God, and ask Him to help you to know His joy in your heart. Be persistent and patient; do your part to have joy, don't just sit around and wait for it, but work for it. God will help you.
Recognizing and creating joy in your day may take time and practice. That is okay. It is a worthwhile endeavor!
More resources to help you to learn to live with joy every day
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