Sometimes in the midst of very joyful circumstances I find myself feeling disappointed, worried, or frustrated.
It often seems like these joy-squelching emotions occur spontaneously. However, if I examine myself closely, I see that I have some habits that spur these feelings. Are these same habits diminishing your joy?
Little habits that wreak great havoc on your joy
- Worrying instead of living in the moment. I’ve always been a worrier and it’s particularly easy to give into this habit because there are so many things we can worry about! Worry undermines joy because it takes our minds off of the good things that are happening now, occupying them instead with concerns about things that can go wrong. Scripture teaches us that all the worry in the world can’t add a single hour to our lives. We should seek God instead of worrying because He knows our needs and will provide for us (Matthew 6:25-34).
- Comparing ourselves to others. We feel good when we compare ourselves to individuals who are not very attractive, not very talented, etc. We feel bad when we compare ourselves to individuals who are very attractive, very talented, etc. Either way, our joy will be muted so long as we use others to gauge our success or value. Why? Because, as followers of Christ, we should live for God’s approval, not man’s approval (Galatians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:4).
- Catastrophizing. Sometimes I look at the pile of laundry before me and feel that the challenge of getting it all washed is tantamount to scaling Mount Everest. Pretty silly, right? This is an example of catastrophizing, which is when we have irrational thoughts of things being much worse than they actually are. I’m not sure why others catastrophize, but I think I typically do it to explain away my inadequacies or failings. In other words, if I convince myself that an ordinary task is exceptionally demanding, then it’s easy to make excuses when I’m unable to complete it as well as I’d like. We don’t need to do this because God’s strength is sufficient for our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
- Wallowing in regrets. Most of us have things we would do differently if we could live life over again. There’s no way to turn back time, though, so wallowing in regrets is pointless. What we can do is be like the righteous man who rises each time he falls (Proverbs 24:16) as we learn from past experiences so they inform our future actions.
- Blaming others for our mistakes. Ah, the blame game. It’s as old as humankind. Adam blamed Eve for giving him the forbidden fruit and Eve blamed the serpent for convincing her to eat the fruit (Genesis 3). Like these two, we sometimes like to blame others for our shortcomings. Doing this prevents us from learning and growing from our mistakes. Let’s take responsibility for our own choices and begin sowing what we desire to reap (Galatians 6:7-8).
- Getting too little rest. It’s normal to feel fatigue after we’ve completed a lot of work. After all, even Jesus felt tired and needed sleep (Luke 8:22-25)! Unlike Jesus, our fatigue often manifests itself in ways that detract from joy (grumpiness, frustration, etc.). It’s essential that we get rest—both nightly sleep and Sabbath rest (Exodus 20:8-11)—if we are to experience joy.
Whether you have these habits or others (refusing to forgive, feeling entitled, etc.), let’s overcome them so we can enjoy fullness of joy!
What habits threaten your joy and what do you do to guard it?