Welcome I just spent the month of June working on my Joy-o-meter. I think the “enemy” has been trying to thwart my plans, though, because our family has faced obstacle after obstacle these past couple months. That makes it more important than ever to keep my focus and believe that “the joy of the Lord is my strength!” Thank you for joining me today.
Food For Thought One of the closing chapters of a recent book study was titled, “You be You.” A quote from within the chapter stated, “Let her be her and you be you.” This line was used to lead me away from thinking about how I “should be” compared to her and instead focus on being the best me I can be, joyful and content with who I am and working toward the person I want to become. The issue, however, is that I’m not always joyful and content with who I am. It’s not just because I’m comparing my life to others, but because I struggle to accept who I am, thinking I can and should be more, not just for myself, but for my family, for my church and community, and for God. I often forget that God has made me uniquely the way I am with purpose and meaning.
I decided I would focus on joy through the month of June. This included a daily scripture reading focusing on joy. This is available as a free download in the “Freebies” tab, if you’re interested. I tried to keep a joyful attitude even when life threw obstacles in our path, over and over again. I did a lot of painting and drawing. I listened to a lot of classical music. I tried to find the good in each day, even when my spirits were low. I basically wanted to smile more and have a more positive outlook, for myself and for those around me.
One of the exercises during the book study included a “Know Myself” series of questions. One of the questions was “What makes you smile?” I wrote down a list that included eighteen items that make me smile. These aren’t just the “smile to be polite” kind of events either, but rather my spontaneous can’t-help-but-smile, deep-from-the-inside kind of smiles. I’m going to share my list with you today, and I want to encourage you to make a similar list. Maybe you are naturally a happy person who finds joy in almost any given situation. If so, I admire your positivity, but I think it would be fun for you, too, to create this kind of list. For those of you who find yourself struggling to smile through life’s many disappointments and obstacles, this list is truly beneficial. You may be surprised just how much you find in your life is worth smiling about!
18 Things that Make Me Smile!
1 Watching my daughter display kindness and sweetness to others…whether including someone who’s being left out of a group or noticing a gift item at the store she knows her teacher will “just love,” I love how she puts others first.
2 Waterfalls. The negative ions they produce interact with our brain chemistry to make us naturally happy. No wonder I love them so much! Here’s what Web MD has to say about negative ions:
“Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.”
3 Hearing my husband giggle…I know that sounds strange, but when I hear him giggle, it’s cute for one thing, but I also know that he is genuinely tickled by something. Men don’t typically fake a giggle. It’s just different and I love it.
4 Hiking. Like waterfalls, there is a natural anti-depressant at work here. The Positive Psychology Program names three major benefits from spending time in nature: reduced stress, improved mood, and improved cognitive performance. The article also offers some theories behind these benefits. It has been stated in our family, time and again, that I become a different person when I’m out on a trail. I am much more relaxed, optimistic, and naturally smile more.
5 A tender touch or caress from my husband. Okay, we don’t want to get too personal here, but most of us react positively to a gentle touch from a loved one. When our spouse or significant other extends this type of touch voluntarily it reminds us that we are wanted or desired and loved, and that meets one of our basic psychological needs in life. There is a whole field of physiological explanation for this reaction based on neurotransmitters and chemical reactions in the brain, but I won’t even pretend to understand all of the neuroscience jargon. There is plenty of medical journal research out there that supports this idea.
6 A foot rub. No, not many people volunteer for the job, and I understand why, but when I can persuade my husband or daughter to massage my feet, I smile because it feels so good. I have so much trouble with my feet these days, and they swell almost daily, so this is really a soothing act bringing relief and a smile.
7 Compliments about something other than appearance, clothes, etc. Compliments are good, when sincere.
8 Date night goes well. My husband and I try to still “date” one another, aiming for once a month, but it just doesn’t always happen. And sometimes when it does happen, it doesn’t go well, usually because I have unrealistic expectations or we have decision-making issues. But sometimes, date night is just right, and I smile.
9 When my husband, daughter, and I do something together that is not “watching TV or movies.” Whether it’s playing a board game, going for a hike, or working in the yard together, I just love spending time with these two. In fact, I can’t think of much else that is better.
10 Getting a craft or art project to turn out well. The act of creating is very enjoyable for me, but when the finished product meets or exceeds my expectations, I smile. I smile even more when I get compliments on the project (see number 7 on the list!)
11 Fresh air and sunshine. Walking in my neighborhood or sitting on our deck, even doing yard work can leave me smiling. I need my Vitamin D!
12 Splashing in an uncrowded swimming pool on a hot summer day. Crowded pools stress me out, but other than that, I love to be in the water, especially when it brings such needed relief from the heat.
13 Seeing or feeling an answered prayer. Sometimes I experience things, and I can’t help but smile and say, “I know that was You, God. Thank You.”
14 Reflecting on personal growth. It is not a lack of humility, but a chance to see progress in my own messy life. Enough progress, in fact, to spur me on so I can keep going. Persevere. Fight the good fight. Run the race. Keep on keepin’ on.
15 The feeling of being unrushed or uncluttered. I smile in those rare moments when my house is completely clean and organized. It brings a sense of calm. I smile in those rare moments when I know I can slow down and relax, guilt-free, knowing the things that need to be done have already been taken care of.
16 Exercise without foot or leg pain. I’ve enjoyed exercise most of my adult life, but a constant nagging pain in feet and legs can make the experience way more of a chore than a joy. So on the days I go for my walk or do other exercise and not have the pain, you will see me smile with gratitude.
17 Finding a bargain for something we need. When I needed a new stove a few years ago, we opted for the floor model that a tiny ding in the side (which no one can see when it’s installed), that knocked almost 50 percent off the selling price. Big smile–new stove and a bargain!
18 Feeling a sense of acceptance or belonging in a group. When you are someone that has spent most of their life feeling like you’re on the outside looking in in most every social situation, a feeling of acceptance or belonging brings relief and a smile.
So, I didn’t hold back in my list. I was honestly me. What would your smile list show about who you are?
Today’s Scriptures I’m going to share four of my Joyful June scriptures today and the Bible journaling pages I completed to go with them.
Galatians 5:22-23 John 16:22 Proverbs 17:22 (yes, I know I misprinted the chapter) Isaiah 55:12
Inspiration for today’s journaling pages: Bible Journaling by Dawn McVey for Papertrey Ink and Instagram