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Four Ways to Spark Joy This Holiday Season

November 22, 2021
Marriage Enrichment

Four Tips To Seek Joy Even When Life Is Hard

As another challenging year nears its end and the Christmas season quickly approaches, how do we endure adversity around us while not letting it steal our joy?  

I grew up with a brother, Lee, who had many special needs. Every single day posed some kind of challenge to him. While he was never supposed to live past 30, he passed away at 56. Because of his life circumstances, he had every reason not to be joyful, yet he was one of the most joyful people I’ve ever known. I’m thinking I could take a cue or two from him about navigating hard times without letting them steal my joy. As we approach the holidays, here are four lessons Lee taught me about finding joy when life’s hard. I’m hopeful you’ll find them helpful, too. 

1. Don’t let circumstances dictate your mindset.  

Even in the worst times, it’s possible to have joy because you can choose it. More specifically, you can ask the God of hope to fill you with joy. Although Lee had bad days, he was able to look past his daily challenges and experience joy. Boy, do I want that! The circumstances surrounding the holidays may not go like you want or plan for, but they’re going to happen, and you get to choose to make the best of them! 

2. Focus on others. 

Lee was always thinking of others. Once, on a trip, he bought so many T-shirts for friends and coworkers, he didn’t have room for his own clothes when it was time to pack. If my mom hadn’t made him pack his clothes, I guarantee he would’ve left them behind. He loved people and genuinely cared for them. Spending time loving others and caring for them, or letting them care for you, can help you experience joy. I urge you—love one another this holiday season as Christ has loved you. 

3. Don’t wish away your current set of circumstances—it’s a waste of time.  

No doubt, all of us are ready to move forward from COVID, political culture, and other circumstances surrounding us. If we continue to spend our time and energy dwelling on those things, they can rob us of our joy. Lee was on dialysis for the last 10 years of his life. He would sit in a chair for hours, three times a week, while the machines worked. He didn’t like it, but I hardly heard him complain. Instead, he chose to see the opportunity in his current set of circumstances.  Rather than wishing them away, he spent the time connecting with many people he would’ve never known otherwise. You can choose to seek greater opportunities, too.  

4. Make a list of things that bring you joy, and then, do them! 

I’m certain some items at the top of Lee’s list would be sweets, football, holidays, and people. My brother never met a sweet he didn’t like, but he especially liked sugar-coated orange slices. If you gave him a container of those, his face would light up like you’d given him gold. While he couldn’t add numbers, he knew football better than most and was an avid fan. He loved every holiday, but Christmas was his favorite. And being around people energized him. What brings you joy? Can you use any of these things to inspire yourself or others during the holidays? 

I’ve learned it’s exhausting to focus on the negative, and it definitely doesn’t make navigating hard times any easier. This December, I challenge you to be mindful of your circumstances, consider others, and meditate on the things you are certain bring you joy. 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

This blog was written by Julie Baumgardner, Senior Director of WinShape Marriage. 

Need a Refresh From the Holiday Season?

If the holidays kept your family busy, and you and your spouse need time away to rest and reconnect, consider attending one of our upcoming WinShape Marriage Retreats.

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