A friend gave me some advice last year during one of my dark moods.
She told me to write down ten things that might lift my spirits, that could bring a touch of joy. She said when life gets especially tough, I should try to do one or more of those things.
I took her advice and started a list. At the time I could only come up with six things; it was a stretch for me then. I’ll admit the feeling of happy has been like an illusive butterfly, floating in and floating out on the winds of circumstances at unexpected moments.
But over the months I referred to that list. I reached deep down and gathered strength to do one thing now and then. And sure enough, a cheerful few moments emerged, enough to lift my spirit and bring me back to the list again.
I have found through a simple little activity that I have more control over my own mood than I gave myself credit for. I have too willingly succumbed to the sadness and the bad news, to the rising pressure around me.
Instead of being affected by life’s temperature, I should be a thermostat, creating an environment for joy and contentment and praise.
After all, didn’t James, Paul, and David write for my instruction:
“Consider it pure joy . . . ”
“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”
“Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!”
What we call happiness is nothing more than a fleeting emotion based upon the most current event. Lots of things can trigger happiness. And lots of things can bring it crashing to the ground.
I’m learning that joy, contentment and praise are spiritual disciplines that should not be affected by the blowing breezes of daily occurance which will change like the weather in Kentucky.
Hey, this is nothing new. I’ve known it for a very long time. Apparently it is something I need to re-learn now and again.
So here are my ten activities (yes, I completed the list) that I can proactively do to lift my spirits and settle myself back into joy, contentment, and praise:
- Feed the birds. Is there anything that teaches me more about God’s provision than watching the birds eat seed at my feeder? I remember that His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
- Send an encouraging message to someone via snail mail, email, Facebook or phone. I’ve been on the receiving end of kind words so many times. Both make me feel better.
- Do a random act of kindness. It is impossible to pour love on someone without some of it splashing back on me.
- Prepare a gift and give it. Once again, I feel the droplets of goodness falling all around me.
- Smell the roses. My garden revives me. In winter, the blooming house plants of violet, kalanchoe, and Christmas cactus are my simple pleasures.
- Organize something. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I know. But cleaning out the junk drawer, organizing a coat closet, or putting the CDs in alphabetical order is therapy for me. When life feels out of control, having some things in control helps me stay sane.
- Journal. Writing my feelings is healing, releasing pent-up emotions that do not need to be spewed on loved ones standing close by. If the words come out too rough, I can always tear out the page and throw it away.
- Sip from a comforting cup. No matter if it’s coffee the way I like it – strong and hot with cream – or one of those frou-frou coffee milkshake concoctions or a cup of Earl Grey tea, choosing the right container, be it a sturdy mug or a delicate tea cup, is part of the comfort.
- Talk. There are people who really do want to know how I feel when they ask, “How are you today.” With those rare few, I can be real. I can let my hair down and pour out my heart and know I am in a safe place.
- Turn up the music. Songs can sooth me, change my mood, and cause me to sing along. Before I realize it, I’m whistling a happy tune.
Well, there is my list of ten. None of them will change my world. They will, however, change me. Instead of a view of the dark tunnel, I turn my gaze outward and upward. Doing a simple something may be just the nudge I need to remember I have a great God who cares for me.
Do you have a list of your own? I would love for you to it with me.