It was a beautiful Sunday morning. I was feeling happy as I filled the table with hot breakfast dishes and called my family in to eat. As soon as we prayed and started to pass food around, one of my children snapped, “Why do you put pepper on the bacon? I hate it that way.” Then she turned on her brother. “Scoot over! I don’t want to listen to you chew. It’s disgusting.”
I felt my joy start to deflate. Why? Why do they have to ruin every nice meal?
The fact is, we have to face these kinds of situations every day. And yet, we don’t have to become a victim to them. For many moms, there are 5 common things that are stealing your joy. Here’s what they are and how you can hold onto that joy tightly!
1. Sarcastic or Rude Comments
How is it that kids can take the sunniest moment and strike it with what feels like a bolt of lightning to our souls? But it’s not just our kids; our spouses, friends, coworkers, or even that guy who cuts you off in traffic can be so sarcastic or rude that they zap the joy right out of you.
Our natural reaction is either to “set them straight” or to stew over it. But in Brant Hansen’s book Unoffendable, he responds this way in his mind: “I feel sorry for her right now. I hope she’s OK.”
Because you are OK. The person making the rude comment is not, in some sense. He’s angry or grumpy or just got laid off or is experiencing any number of issues that are hindering his ability to be loving and give grace. So it’s sad for him. But you can move on with your day and still be OK.
2. Disappointing Circumstances
Things get canceled. (We know all about that—thanks, 2020!) A friend can’t go to lunch at that new Thai restaurant but you were so looking forward to it. Your daughter didn’t make the basketball team. Things happen unexpectedly. And even little things can lead to big disappointment.
First of all, tell yourself: It’s OK to be disappointed. After you’ve been sad for a minute, think about plan B. Maybe you ask a different friend to go to that Thai restaurant, or maybe your daughter takes a year to try chorus instead of basketball. Who knows? Maybe plan B will be even better than plan A.
3. Sibling Fights
When my kids are bickering relentlessly, I have a really hard time emotionally coming back to “center.” I get so frustrated that they can’t just get along, and I worry that I’ve done something wrong in parenting them. This can really steal my joy.
Instead, we have to remember: Sibling fights are normal, even educational. They are learning how to cope and forgive and relate. And no matter how much I try, they still have their own personalities and relationships that—are you ready for this?—have nothing to do with me!
4. Your Husband’s Bad Mood
When your husband is grumpy, it can really be tough not to mimic his mood. He’s moping around, taking everything personally, unable to enjoy himself.
But here’s what helps me the most when this happens: Am I ever in a grumpy mood? Yes. Do I want my spouse to try to talk me out of it or make me feel bad about it? No. I just want him to be cheerful and let me feel how I feel. I will get out of it by myself.
And so I give that gift to him as well. When I choose this, the grumpiness usually ends sooner anyway.
5. The Weather or the Season
A WebMD article I read said “nearly 9 percent of people fall into the ‘rain haters’ category. This group feels angrier and less happy on days with more precipitation.” Isn’t it crazy to think that rain, wind, extreme cold, or even extreme heat are among the big things that are stealing your joy? But that’s true, for many people.
The season or holiday can steal it just as well. Maybe Christmas leaves you feeling empty and stressed, or Valentine’s Day seems like a yearly disappointment. You see it coming on the calendar and you just cringe.
Can we avoid these times? No, but we can hang onto our joy. Instead of thinking, “Oh, great. This is going to be awful,” you can fight back! Is it dreary? Turn on lights, happy music, and go for a walk! Is it lonely? Invite a family over for dinner! Is it stressful? Make a shift to do something different this year.
Have you seen a pattern? What are some other things that are stealing your joy and how do you keep joy in your heart?