To be honest, the whole secondary school application thing had been weighing heavily on my mind. I decided the best tack was not to talk about it at all. The last thing I wanted was to stress my daughter out about it, and the only way I could keep sane was to forget about it.
I didn’t realise the impact this was having on my family. Of course, we all have times when we are not joyful. We may be tired, or ill, or there may be big problems in our lives. Under these and other conditions, it can be hard to be feel the joy.
When life makes us weary, finding joy can be the last thing we are thinking of. It seems like we are bogged down with everything that life is throwing at us. We can’t see the way out. This is when remembering the joy can be so valuable.
My husband can always tell when I’ve finished a piece of work, or a burden has been lifted. He jokes about seeing the weight disappear from my shoulders. I try to keep family life and work separate, but this isn’t always easy. Some of my work directly involves my children, and I do it for the benefit of them and other people their age. My work base is also in our home. When the kids come home from school, I try to keep out of the study. I’ve made a conscious effort not to answer emails when I’m supposed to be making the tea. I can’t always avoid the phone call that comes in at 4.30 pm.
It seems to be inevitable that we will have times without joy. Being aware that this happens to us all is the first step towards remembering joy. Noticing our negative thinking patterns can really help. Trying to find the joy before we have spiralled right down into a place that is hard to get out of is a good idea.
Try to have a few cues. Leave yourself a post-it note that reminds you of something that has made you laugh. Put something silly in your desk drawer. Change the background on your desktop or mobile phone regularly. Just noticing when your thought processes are becoming negative can make a real difference.
Ideas to help us live a life of joy:
- Notice the little things. A few leaves shaped like a butterfly. A wildflower growing between the cracks of the pavement. A spider’s web frozen on a crisp morning.
- Try to see the worldthrough the eyes of a child. Remember the magic of kicking through autumn leaves and finding unopened conkers.
- Take time out for yourself. Many people find mindfulness meditation helps them to let go of their everyday worries. There’s lots of free meditation tracks out there.
- Finally, if you are religious, this quotation from Matthew 10 may help you: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Offering our worries to the Lord in prayer can bring us relief and joy.
How do you find joy?
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