If you were to consider your life as a whole at this moment in time, would you say that it is filled with joy? Or are you living in a state of overwhelm or survival mode? Or maybe something in between?
A little while back I started noticing that though there were definitely times that I felt happy, overall I seemed to feel pretty stuck in the blahs. I didn’t know what specifically was making me feel that way, just that I had a sense of needing something to change. I probably would have put myself squarely in the orange section of the joy meter above. Things weren’t awful, but I would not say I was filled with joy either. Have you been there too?
Here are a couple of definitions I found for joy:
Joy (n) a feeling of extreme gladness, delight, or exultation of the spirit arising from a sense of well-being or satisfaction. (American Psychological Association)
Joy (n) 1. The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. Also the expression or exhibition of such emotion. 2. A state of happiness or felicity. (Merriam-Webster dictionary)
Something that God has been showing me over the last year or two is that there are times when a particular area of my life is a bit out of balance and needing some T.L.C., but I have been ignoring it…so my overall sense of joy gets zapped. I have learned that I need to spend some time reflecting to dig down and find the area that’s a bit out of alignment.
My personal theory for not being aware that something is off and becoming a problem (until I’m feeling a noticeable drop in joy) is that four times I’ve had Littles who were needy & nursing so now I fall easily into the default mode of “my personal needs come last” that often comes with motherhood. I’m pretty sure most moms can relate to that!
Over the last year or so I have been trying to pay closer attention to my joy meter and to be a bit quicker to identify problem areas and come up with small changes I can make in my life to move the joy needle forward.
First, I do a bit of self reflection and inventory to try to identify which part of my life might have something that needs adjusting (like my health & wellness, my physical environment, my finances, my relationships, my mental & spiritual health, or my career/calling).
After I identify which one of those bigger categories is suffering, or just bugging me the most, I think through all the smaller parts that make up that category to narrow down where my joy is being zapped. For example, in my bigger relationships category I have: my husband, each of my kids, my extended family, my close friends, my business friends, my church friends, etc. Now, say I have something unresolved with one of my teenagers, or that I have not had any real connection with one of my friends for months… that could be weighing on me, kind of behind the scenes, and bringing my entire joy level down.
When I’ve isolated the smaller part of the life category that needs some T.L.C. or tweaking, I try to figure out one SMALL action I can take to improve that area, and add it to my calendar! In the relationship example above, I might plan a 1:1 dinner or ice cream outing with my teen, or send a text right away to my friend asking if we can meet for coffee soon or just plan to chat on the phone.
As busy moms we have a LOT going on, and often many of the things are urgent and needing our attention RIGHT NOW! At times we are so focused on those urgent and in-our-faces things that we sort of brush aside the other parts of our lives that maybe are not so loudly yelling at us. This is one of the reasons that as part of our own self care, we really need to make a practice out of getting quiet and reflecting. As much as I WISH I had the time for two hours of journaling with soft music playing in the background (and no kids around), or a quiet nature walk by myself every single day, those are not practical for my time of life & family circumstances.
So what CAN fit into the life of a busy mom? Here are some ideas:
Spend the last 15-20 minutes of the day playing soft music or nature sounds as you close your eyes & either do some praying/thinking/reflecting while you stretch your body, OR curl up in a cozy chair with your journal & a cup of herbal tea to do the same on paper.
If you’re an early-riser, do the above things in the first part of your day.
Intentionally plan to spend reflection time when your kids are watching a show, instead of scrolling social media or watching your own show.
Put in earbuds while you wash dishes or fold laundry! Play soft music or nature sounds and just observe your thoughts and whether they stray to anything in particular that might be troubling you in the background of your life.
Praying during those tedious mechanical chores (dishes & laundry) is also a great way to use pockets of time to connect with God and get his insights on the things that might be zapping your joy and are needing some T.L.C.
You might not have 2 hours for a nature walk, but it’s likely that you can find 15-20 minutes for a walk around the neighborhood! Spend the time in reflection, or in prayer. (PRO TIP- If you’re a verbal processor, put your earbuds in before you talk to yourself or pray out loud. People will just think you’re on a phone call.)
I’m a worksheet/workbook lover and am often creating things for my own use. Here are some that you might find useful as part of your reflection practice (click on each one to access the PDF):
I am so excited to announce that I will be presenting about sowing seeds of joy into your life at the Women of Faithful Purpose online summit on June 8, 2022!!! My presentation will flesh out more of the process I use to locate & work on areas in my life that are bringing my joy level down - stay tuned for more information!
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Wishing you freedom, joy, purpose & impact in all areas of your life!