Do you believe it’s possible to live a joy-filled life regardless?
Recently, a friend going through a challenging time in her life asked me if I thought it possible to live a happy life while going through a lot of complicated stuff. Immediately I responded with a resounding YES! Why? Because I am going through a difficult season and am finding my way to move forward regardless of what’s happening around me.
What about you? As you look at the road ahead, are you facing a lot of uncertainties? Did 2022 end not necessarily the way you would have liked it to? What does 2023 look like? If your answers to these questions leave you encouraged, good for you, and keep doing what you are doing. But if your answers leave you frustrated or disappointed, don’t quit. The truth is we can live a healthy and joy-filled life even when the circumstances around us are tugging at us and inviting us to give up.
I don’t know where you are right now. Maybe it’s your own life challenges you are facing, or perhaps it’s a loved one or aging parent who is struggling. It is so easy during these times to fix our focus on the problems but doing this will only result in feeling stuck and unable to see your options or life’s goodness beyond the disparity. Suppose the challenges in your life are the last thought on your mind when going to bed and the first thought you have when waking up. This is a big red flag that your quality of life is suffering. Other warning signs include worrying continuously, an anxious state of mind, depressed moods, frustration, overwhelm, or anything less than what God intended for the abundant life you were created to live. This state of living, when left unattended, can have long-term effects on your ability to move forward and live the life you desire.
If you can relate to any of this, you might ask yourself, what do I do about it?
Here are a few ideas that have helped my clients and me.
Be Aware. Become aware of where your focus is throughout the day. Are you putting off taking care of yourself, your responsibilities, or your desires so that you can be available physically and emotionally for the problems in life? In other words, do you put off doing what you want or need to do to wait for the next crisis or be there in case you are needed?
Be Intentional. Take a look at your daily schedule to determine what you are putting on hold. Where is there room to put time on your calendar to accomplish what you need or what brings you joy? Even small blocks of time and small tasks can be beneficial and produce bigger results than you might imagine.
Be Honest. If this challenge was not part of your life, what are you putting off or rearranging to accommodate others or stay focused on the problems? To say it another way, what would your life look like if you didn’t have this problem?
Be Accepting. One of the most challenging tasks we sometimes face is surrendering our ability to control or fix the outcome and accept what is. Accepting in no way portrays you are condoning or embracing the circumstance. Accepting allows you to recognize you are not in control and there may be nothing you can do or say to fix it. Sometimes letting go of the problems for a period is necessary. Instead of concentrating on the challenges, focus on what you have control over (you and your behavior) and identify steps you can take to invite more peace and joy into your life.
Be Patient. In this microwave, instant pot, one-click Google-answered world, we have become a society of wanting answers, solutions, and a fix-all approach within minutes. Life’s challenges and your growth (or your loved ones) take time. There is not always an easy answer or a quick fix to your challenges. Sometimes surrendering the need to find a solution and committing to living a simple life one day at a time can be the best option to cultivate joy. Don’t allow yourself to worry about tomorrow (anxiety) or fret about yesterday (depression), but instead commit to living for just today (peace). Ask yourself, “What can I do, or what do I need at this very minute”?
Be Faithful. Trust can be challenging, particularly if you have had incidents in your past where people have let you down. But trusting in a God that only wants good for you and created you to live a joy-filled life can be a big help during times of difficulty. Jeremiah 29:11-12 in the Message version says, “I have plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.” A dear friend reminds me often when I am thinking negatively that “A positive outcome is just as likely as a negative one.”
Be Kind. Remember to always be kind and gentle with yourself. During this challenging winter season, there will be tough days, continued challenges, and times when you don’t get it right. In these times, give yourself grace, speak kind words to yourself and do something that brings joy to you (even if it’s simply taking a walk or a nap).
Life challenges are demanding, and sometimes it can seem that this will be your sentence for life. Remember, winter doesn’t last forever, and spring is just around the corner.
I hope you have found encouragement in this discussion today and have already decided to keep pressing on toward living a flourishing life regardless of your circumstances.
Every day I get the opportunity to talk with others moving forward through life challenges. If you are facing a challenge and could use a safe and trusted person to talk to, I would love to have a conversation with you.
Your Life and Your Relationships always matter!
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