Negativity… it sucks!

Defending your joy is an uphill battle when you don’t have the support of your community. You know those days. When it seems everyone around you is determined to speak in bitter, harsh, words. Sometimes, you walk into a room, and you can just feel the tension. The cynicism. Or, even worse, you comment on something positive and someone else interjects why the world still sucks. It leaves us, and the atmosphere around us, just straight up icky.

How are we supposed to stay joyful when everyone around us seems intent on tearing it down? Well, I’ve got some exciting news for you. This is the thick of the battle when it comes to defending your joy. Dig in! Here are three things I’ve found that help me hold my shield up high, no matter what the enemy throws at me.

1. Check your Attitude

Here’s the first thing I have to say. The problem might be you. If your joy depends on the joy of the people around you, is it really joy?

I know, I know. I preach to myself with this step time and time again. I get it. It’s hard when everyone around you is bent on bitterness.

But it’s still up to you to defend your joy. Are you going to let someone’s negative comment in or are you going to go the extra mile and find something positive and joyful to hold onto?

2. Practice Gratitude

Probably the most tried, and true, bit of advice you can get. This bit of advice is overused. Slapped on like a band-aid and sent on our way towards toxic-positivity.

But it’s overused for a reason. That reason being: it works.

For every negative thing you hear, you should pour in five positives to balance the scale. We weren’t created for pain (literally God created us for the Garden of Eden), and so it makes sense that pain (something we weren’t created for) gets stuck. We need more positives to fight it.

Obviously, there’s a balance to this. If you’ve experienced the loss of a life, you shouldn’t just ‘try harder to be thankful’, you should allow yourself to grieve. I don’t think I can emphasis enough to feel what you need to feel. But you can’t let your feelings (or the people around you) control your joy.

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

– David Steindl-Rast

3. Pray

It all comes back to this. We can strive, try, struggle, and run, as hard as we possibly can, and it will never be enough. We will never achieve our goals, or our desires, unless we come back to the very foundation of it all. Sometimes, when joy seems to be just out of reach, the only thing that can help you, is this: to sit in silence, at the feet of our Lord and Savior, and let his presence wash over you. No deep groanings. No strangled requests. Just to sit and breathe in his presence.

We can do nothing apart from the Lord.

Psalm 28:7

 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.”

So, how are you going to defend your joy today?

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