The 3-Letter Word that Changed My Life

inspirational word

Inspired by a couple of new friends, I decided to designate a word as my theme for last year. This would be an inspirational word I could intentionally work on to better myself, that would inspire me in my life and faith journey. At first, courageous came to mind, but another simple 3-letter word kept popping up everywhere.


What kind of theme word was that, anyway? I loved to have fun and laugh. Things were just fine in that department, thank you very much.

But there it was again. And again—on TV and on a billboard on the way to work, but I kept pushing it to the back of my mind. Then one evening, a friend and I were wrapping up our girls’ night out. As she was throwing out her trash, she started singing a familiar Sunday school tune in the middle of the Friday dinner crowd.

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,” she belted out, unbeknownst to the struggle I was having with the whole word thing.

“I just don’t know why, but every time I’m with you, I feel like I need to sing that song,” she told me in between stanzas.

Oh dear. I couldn’t hide from joy any longer. (And, boy, is that a loaded statement!)

Over time, I discovered that I wasn’t really taking joy in life. I was tucking joy away and instead choosing things like annoyance with a lot of everyday things and impatience with my husband, three kids and our jam-packed schedule.

I didn’t en-JOY the routine, mundane moments. But I really needed to! Can you relate? If so, here are three things to remember about joy in your life:

1. You might as well be joyful.

The dishes need to be done and the kids need to be taxied. Instead of complaining, be joyful in your routine. You have to do those things anyway, so just take joy in them! {Tweet This} More times than not, I’d go to the car for yet another trip into town, grumbling under my breath. I’d feel overwhelmed by the sink full of dirty dishes. I’m not saying I now always do a happy dance in the middle of our piles of dirty laundry. But it’s important to not let the frazzled feelings take over. When those stressed-out emotions come to the surface, take a deep breath and perhaps even sing out loud “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy…down in my heart….” You can’t help, but smile!

2. Joy can take different forms.

I’m not sure what I expected when “joy” became my life theme. Would I break into song in the middle of a crowded restaurant, too? Or, would my personality drastically change? Well, I can honestly say neither of these happened, yet. I’m still me—but a better version because of joy. During my commutes to and from work, I take the time to keep my focus with my favorite music or an inspirational podcast. Or, if I have the kids in the car, I use the trips as teachable moments to engage them in conversation. While cleaning up the remnants of supper, I’ll pray for a couple of friends. Changing my focus made me more patient, more loving, less annoyed, and incredibly peaceful. And I can say that I do enjoy everything more—even those things that I grumbled over before.

3. Joy is contagious—in a good way.

Because I was choosing joy, my husband decided to take the journey with me. He’s a school teacher, and he put a choose joy sign on his desk as a reminder to himself and his students. As the year progressed, the kids would even remind him to choose joy when they sensed him losing patience. What a great lesson for all ages! I didn’t even realize whose lives would be impacted, too, through that simple word.

So what about you? Do you find yourself more jittery than joyful most of the time? Then maybe a joy habit is on the horizon.  Sure, you might think there are cooler words, too, but nothing quite so life changing.

What can you do to find joy in your everyday moments?

Lori Clapper is a radio personality, freelance writer, editor, speaker, mom to three kids, and is married to an incredible guy.