Are you truly enjoying your life? Notice, I said LIFE – as in its ENTIRETY. Not simply the occasional summer vacation or other random, happy moment in your life.
Do you justify putting off fully enjoying your life for a “good” reason? Um… maybe after the kids get older?
The truth is, there’s no good reason to delay your joy. To put it off for a more appropriate time. The right time is NOW!
I’m not talking about turning into one of those super happy-go-lucky people. You know, those people who never seem to have a bad day. I mean, that’s not a bad thing… but some of us just aren’t wired that way. And that’s OK too!
Some days I wish I could be like that but I’m not. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned how to capture the good moments on purpose and not delay really living my life for a “better” time.
There’s a phrase I know you’ve heard – Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once). Though this phrase seems an attempt to justify questionable behavior – I totally get the sentiment.
Enjoy your life to the full and don’t wait to do it because you only get one chance.
This is true. I mean, we only get one shot down here on this earth until we move on, so we should do our best to live it well.
So, why do we find ourselves living a good life but stopping there?
Why do we plan to do the things we really want…
when I …
when they …
when we …?
Stop Putting Off Your Enjoyable Life
Why do we find it so hard sometimes to be spontaneous and just not know what’s coming next? Not having access to life’s map and all the details is hard. And I think it’s human nature, at least for most of us.
Every time we get in the car, my kids always want to know where we’re going, whose’s coming, and what we’ll be doing. And even though I think pretty much the same way; when they do it to me it’s no less annoying. I’m always telling them to relax and enjoy the ride.
I believe that’s what God is whispering to us. Just enjoy the ride of this life. Rest your head on your headrest and stare out the window as His beauty flies past your window. Soak it in. Go with the flow. Don’t wonder where you’re going, but be excited about the ride there.
I’ve learned along the way that my enjoyment is just as important as the work I do each day. Who is it important to? Me, my spouse, my children, my friends, my church, my community, and to God who sent His Son to give me this enjoyable life.
Happy is an Emotion – Joy is a Choice
The actual word enjoy clearly lays out its purpose. The prefix en means to be “in” the cause, place, or state named; confined in.
So enjoy really means to be confined inside of joy. Imagine being confined, sealed off, and protected by joy. Soak that in for a second.
Joy means the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed; or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; the exhilaration of spirits. Happiness; felicity.
I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of being confined in that. Everyday.
But let’s be clear about something – joy isn’t an emotion. It’s a choice and a deeply personal belief that we’re not alone in this life and God is working all the mundane, the crazy, and the just plain disappointing stuff out for our good.
Happiness and joy get mixed up a lot, unfortunately. Happy is an emotion totally dependent on your circumstances. And I’ve lived long enough to know that circumstance we can’t control shouldn’t be the drivers of how much we’re able to enjoy this life.
Life throws a lot of curve balls and joy gives us the ability to tap into the power of experiencing an enjoyable life… no matter what it looks like!
There are also clear mindsets we can adopt that will outright rob you of your enjoyable life! So, to help you actually claim joy for yourself, here are 4 mindsets that are probably stealing your joy right now.
As you read these, allow your heart to be softened to getting and staying free once and for all.
Mindset #1: Waiting for the Perfect Time
This mindset is probably the most common and far-reaching one. The mentality is simple, “I want to do ____ but” or, “it’ll be better if I wait until ____”
Many single people wait to travel until they have their future spouse to travel with. Little do they know, their spouse may not be waiting for them in their hometown – but in that land, they’re waiting to see.
Many couples wait for more comfortable finances before they start having children. Little do they know, a business or career opportunity could be waiting to be birthed as a result of being a parent.
The point is, to stop waiting until you move into your dream house before you update your furniture. Stop waiting until you have your own backyard before you go outside to play with your kids. Stop waiting until you feel more comfortable before you start pursuing that dream.
Your joy comes when you do those things you desire – NOW. Many people never got the chance to live their dream because they sat waiting for perfection to come and pick them up. But perfection is always a no-show.
She’ll always leave you sitting sadly on the porch with your suitcase in hand. You don’t need to wait to be picked up anyway. You just need to get up, grab your suitcase and start moving – TODAY.
Mindset #2: Needing to Control Everything
I am a recovering control freak. My husband might actually take issue with the “recovering” part. But I’m certainly better than where I was!
I’ve learned that control is rooted in fear and from that control sprouts anger, discontentment, and depression. To say the least, control is not good.
This need to control everything and everyone stems from the fear that something’s going to go wrong if we don’t do it our way. We won’t get there on time if we don’t go my way. They won’t be healthy unless they follow my health plan. It won’t get done unless I do it. She won’t get it right unless I teach her.
And all that mindset does is dull the gifts, ability, and drive of your spouse and children. They’ll eventually become resentful of your control and as a result; never have the opportunity to thrive.
A family can’t experience joy if they aren’t allowed to thrive. To thrive means to grow or develop vigorously; to flourish. When we step in to dictate, instruct, and save the day; we rob from them their ability to flourish – to grow vigorously.
And the only way to reverse this mindset is to lay down your crown.
I give you permission to control your decision to not control.
It shows wisdom when we yield to others’ ideas and do it their way. Control has no place in the family. We need to invite collaboration and unity. A democracy instead of a dictatorship.
That’s not to say, you don’t get to be a parent. I’m just talking about the unhealthy compulsion of control. Discipline and boundaries, on the other hand, are necessary components of a family, but that’s another post entirely.
Mindset #3: Being a Time Counter vs. a Moment Catcher
This mindset is a type of control but deserves its own category. Think of a time when you had a week off from work or your regular routine. This was vacation time for you and the family. The first day is awesome! You’re letting your hair down as you step foot onto the grounds of Do Whatever You Want Land.
This continues until around day 5 when it suddenly occurs to you that you only have 2 more days left before you have to return to the real world! Your heart starts to beat a little faster and you feel like you’re having a mini panic attack.
And no matter how hard you try, from day 5 until the end, you chunk everything you do into tiny time frames.
Wow, this pool is so nice. Wait! We only have two more hours before the day ends and that means there’s only one day left!
That can go on until the last hour of vacation. This mindset is truly an enemy of your joy because you can’t feel joy while you’re counting the time.
This is a mindset that I’ve always struggled with and the danger of it is really simple – when you count the time, you can’t be present enough to capture the moments.
While you’re swimming in the pool with your kids and allowing your mind to be overtaken with the countdown; you’re missing stuff. The good stuff. And if you’re not careful, this mindset can invade your every day – not just your vacations.
The only way to reverse this mindset is to train yourself to get lost. Not in a physical place – but in the moment you’re in. If you’re putting together a puzzle with your kids, remove all clocks from view and just keep going until it’s done or you and the kids are tired of putting it together.
Get lost in it and choose to forget what’s next. Pay attention to their faces while they’re trying to fit the wrong pieces in and their excitement when they get one right. Be present to guide them through how to wait for their sister to finish putting in their piece before diving in to put their own.
Smile, laugh, really live.
There is freedom in being present. There is bondage in being torn between your schedule and your moments.
At the end of your life and the end of your children’s lives, there will only be moments. Time won’t matter a bit.
Mindset #4: Comparison
Comparison always leads to either a feeling of insecurity or superiority, and neither lead to joy. You can’t compare a priceless one of a kind painting to anything else. We understand that concept, but don’t understand that each of us is priceless, too. One of a kind creations. We can’t rationally compare ourselves, our lives, or our moments to anyone else’s. But we do – every day.
In order to reverse this mindset, we must learn to see our bodies, our spouses, our kids, our homes, our vacations, and our school routines as unique and made for us and no one else.
The key to joy is keeping your eyes on your own beautiful yard and not letting your eyes wander into your neighbor’s. Sure, there are weeds that pop up from time to time, but those are your weeds. And you work together as a family to rid your yard of them.
But NEVER, ever allow your mind to wander and compare your husband with another woman’s. Or your child with someone else’s. Your family with another family. When we do; their flaws, cracks, blemishes, and imperfections become magnified and eventually repel us.
One moment you liked your husband’s quirks, the next you’re annoyed by them. This happens through the seeds of comparison.
Your family isn’t like anyone else’s. And that’s a good thing. It’s through the cracks and imperfections in your family; that God’s light can fully shine through – lighting up the world.
Joy is a decision that is our responsibility to act on and live.
What are some barriers to joy that you’ve experienced and overcome? Leave a comment and let us learn from you!