Joy. Do you have it? It’s hard sometimes, to feel joy on a regular basis. We’re distracted, rushed, and overwhelmed. Running around, crossing things off our lists. Adding more things to the list.
Trying to get by, keep up, stay afloat, manage the mess. Sometimes I think we’re trying so damn hard to do the things we think will make us happy, that we lose sight of our joy. And even when we do find our joy, we easily let it slip away.
Someone cuts you off in traffic. Your toxic family member takes another verbal jab. And your boss just gave you a crappy performance review. Thanks, Karen.
Are you letting life’s annoyances steal your joy? It’s easy to do. I know because I’ve spent a good part of my life letting circumstances and people steal my joy. But what I finally learned is that they can’t steal my joy if I don’t let them.
I have the power to find joy every day, and so do you.
Don’t let anyone steal your joy. Don’t let situations and circumstances steal your joy.
Learning how to maintain and keep your joy on a day-to-day basis takes practice. At least, it does if you’re like me; someone who grew up with the glass-half-full. It takes work to shift your thinking. But you can do it.
Here are some common “thieves of joy” that may be holding you back.
Don’t Let These Things Steal Your Joy
People Can Steal Your Joy
Don’t let people steal your joy. Others can easily steal our joy if we’re not careful. Think about how much of our lives are spending dealing with other people.
So many different personalities. So many interactions.
With so many encounters with others (from people you know well to people you don’t know at all,) you’re bound to come across tough situations. And that’s normal. But when you do, don’t let those people steal your joy.
You know the people I’m talking about.
Rude people. Toxic people. Energy suckers. Debbie Downers. Meanies. People with no boundaries. Or no filter.
You get the picture.
They may exhibit various traits, which can include intolerance, negativity, or neediness. They might be complainers or lack emotional intelligence. Maybe they are bad-tempered. Or maybe they are just having a bad day.
Whatever it is, their behavior might lead you to shut down and withdraw. Or maybe it upsets you or angers you.
You end up spending a lot of energy and emotion on that person. And that robs you of your joy.
But don’t let it. Don’t let your happiness depend on someone else. Don’t let others control your life. And don’t let anyone make you feel insignificant, silly, or small.
Situations and Circumstances Can Steal Your Joy
If you aren’t careful, situations and circumstances can steal your joy. Disappointments, mishaps, or innocent mistakes can take the wind right out of your sails.
Just this past week, I was excited and happy to be going back home for Thanksgiving with family.
Before heading out on our two-hour drive to our hometown, my daughter and I had a follow-up doctor appointment scheduled to check on her fractured ankle.
I’ve been stressed and worried about it, so I was anxious to get to this appointment and find out how it was healing.
An hour before I thought the appointment was supposed to be, I doubled-checked my email and confirm the time, to learn that the appointment had been scheduled for the day before.
We were a day late and had actually missed her appointment.
And while in the big scheme of things, missing an appointment wasn’t the end of the world, it really upset me.
When I called the doctor’s office, they weren’t able to reschedule us for another week. I found myself wanting to cry. I actually teared up. I know that sounds stupid and dramatic. But I just felt like I had dropped the ball in a big way.
We’ve been dealing with this ankle injury for nearly three months. And missing the appointment was just a mindless mishap. I felt incompetent and unorganized. My emotions tanked and the whole situation clouded my previously sunny outlook.
I beat myself up for several minutes until my daughter said, “Mom, it’s okay! Nobody’s perfect. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Even though she’s the one traipsing around in a boot and missing out on PE activities and her martial arts class, she had the right mindset. This was just a minor setback. No big deal.
Me, on the other hand? I was about to let it ruin my entire day. Cloud my mood. Steal my joy.
So I reset. I accepted this little mishap and quickly reminded myself of the good things about the day and our upcoming trip.
There was no use in letting that situation redirect me from feeling joyful about our Thanksgiving trip home.
The Comparison Trap Can Steal Your Joy
Falling into the comparison trap is a sure-fire way to steal your joy. What’s the comparison trap? It’s comparing yourself to others in various areas of life. We’ve all done it. And it’s something that’s easy to fall into.
Maybe it’s someone’s money or career that you compare to. You might compare the home you live in or the car you drive to where friends and family live or what they drive.
Some people get caught up comparing physical attributes. Or talents. Or vacations.
Maybe you get twisted when you compare your child’s grades with their friends, or how much playing time they get on the field.
There are a million ways to fall into the comparison trap. Believe me, there’s always something.
It’s even worse with social media. We compare and get competitive. Keeping up with the Joneses, they call it. Been there, done that. And it’s easy to do!
You might believe it stems from a lack of confidence. Other times, it’s from not knowing who we really are and what we actually want for ourselves.
But let’s be honest, even when you feel content with where you are and what you have, it can still be hard to look at all of the #blessed highlight reels and not wonder if you’re missing something.
Stay Mindful When It Comes to Joy
You have to stay mindful. When you start comparing your life to others and it begins to affect your joy, just remember that you are watching curated moments of what people want you to see.
Whether you’re comparing yourself on social media or comparing yourself next to the perfect-trendy-cool mom with the perfectly behaved kids and the perfect husband on the bleachers next to you, stop and think for a minute.
Everyone is going through something. Everyone.
As much as you think you know about your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, I promise you this. You don’t know what’s really going on in someone else’s life.
In fact, I would venture to say that in a lot of ways, you have it way better than you think you do.
I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve been talking to someone who I thought had a perfect life, only to find out they had some big problem or issue they were dealing with.
Over the year, my eyes have been opened to the fact that I am not the only one that struggles. And neither are you.
We are all struggling with hard things. So when we compare, it makes you feel worse because you think you are the only one struggling. Comparison steals your joy unnecessarily.
We all have problems and we’re all working through stuff. Maybe it’s not the same stuff. But we all have stuff.
Stop focusing on the fact that it looks like no one else is dealing with stuff (because remember, they are) and keep working to focus on your joy. You can still have joy in the midst of working on the stuff.
Clutter Can Steal Your Joy
When things are out of order, chaos can create stress and anxiety. Clutter can absolutely steal your joy.
Cleaning, organizing and removing clutter can help reduce those feelings and create a sense of order that feels peaceful and calming.
Raise your hand if you feel better when things are in order. (Hand raised!)
I’m not saying you have to have a perfect house to be happy. Gosh no. My house is never perfect. But I do try to keep the clutter to a minimal (or at least out of sight) because too much clutter for me creates anxiety. Clutter steals my joy because it overwhelms me and keeps me in distraction mode. I can’t focus. I don’t enjoy life as much when I’m surrounded by clutter.
Mental clutter is all of the things that keep our mind running like a hamster on a wheel. It’s the “go-go-go” and “things to do” and self-imposed obligations and commitments. It’s stress and worry and fear.
Mental clutter steals your joy because it stresses you out!
Too much mental clutter can zap your energy and even make you sick. And you know what that will lead to? Diminishing joy.
Your Own Behavior
That’s right, friend. You might be stealing your own joy with your own behavior. Think about it for a minute. How do you show up in life? What are your thoughts and actions like?
Do a serious self-assessment. I’ve done one before. It’s not always pretty. Sometimes, I’m the thief of my own joy with my attitude.
Conduct a quick review of your behavior. Do you complain? Gossip? Seek approval? Hold on to bitterness and anger? Live in the past?
Do you criticize yourself and others? Are you living in fear? Do you look to others to make you happy instead of making yourself happy? Are you falling into the comparison trap?
All of these things will steal your joy if you aren’t being diligent about your mindset.
How to Find Joy
So how do you find joy? And how do you keep joy? First of all, recognize that you have a choice in the matter. You can always choose joy. You are responsible for how you feel and for your actions. You’re in control.
- Go out and do things that make you happy.
- Make time for self-care.
- Find ways to give back and help others.
- Work on your personal development and growth.
- Start a new hobby.
- Take creative/artist dates. (We are all creative!)
- Appreciate the small things.
- Laugh often and find humor in daily life. Learn to laugh at yourself!
- Pray or meditate.
Tips for Keeping Your Joy
- Practice gratitude.
- Set boundaries with others.
- Believe in yourself – even if others don’t.
- Stop comparing yourself and your life to other people.
- Live your life – stop living to please others.
Just remember – things will be tough at times. There will be challenging situations and people. Don’t let them steal your joy.