Sometimes we’re unhappy, but we don’t know exactly why.
Even if our lives seem to be happy and successful on the outside, we may not feel that way deep inside.
If you feel that way, it’s likely that there are some things you should stop doing that are stealing your joy.
Here are several of them:
1Worrying About the Future
Jesus specifically warned us against worry in Matthew 6:25-34. I think he did this specifically because he knew that we’re prone to doing it, and doing it well.
But worrying about the future robs us of the joys of the moment. It also causes us to doubt that God will take care of us. At the extreme, it can cause us to live in fear, which can result in paralysis in facing it.
2Agonizing Over the Past
What’s happened in the past should be left to the past. There’s no use in trying to fix it, or to rewrite it to make it seem less unfortunate than it was. The only benefit that can come out of negative past experiences should be found in learning from them.
Your life is what you live today, and the direction you hope to take in the future.
3Fretting Over the World Condition
Thanks in large part to the power of the media, fretting over the world condition is practically a social requirement. In fact, you may be considered irresponsible or uncaring if you aren’t worried about what’s happening in the world.
But the reality is that you can’t fix the whole world. All you can do is to do your best to manage your little corner of it. Do your best in the space you occupy, and let go of the notion that either you – or anyone else – can fix the world condition.
This may be the single worst human habit. When you procrastinate, you put off taking actions that could make your life better. You also allow problems to fester and grow. And if you’re like me, the feelings of guilt begin to creep in when you know there’s something you need to take care of but don’t.
Good feelings flow from accomplishment. That can’t happen if you procrastinate. All that will do is weigh you down with the negative feelings that come from not doing what you know you need to do.
5Doubting Your Eternal Salvation
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7 NIV
I bolded the word heirs in the verse for a reason. You’re not just a follower of Jesus Christ; if you truly believe that he died for your sins, you are now an heir to the hope of eternal life.
Once you embrace that reality, all the trials and tribulations of life suddenly don’t seem to be so threatening.
6Worrying About Your Health
When it comes to health, there’s plenty to worry about – if that’s what you choose to do. But if you are in good health, and merely worried about the possibilities, try doing these two things instead:
- Celebrate the good health that you enjoy, and
- Actively work to preserve and even improve it.
Worrying about your health only leads to stress, and that will degrade it. Instead, resolve to start living better, to eat more nutritious food and lay off the junk, to get regular exercise, and get immediate medical attention if you think something really is wrong.
Beyond that, enjoy your life and don’t worry about your health.
7Watching Too Much TV
If there is one thing TV is really good at, it’s making us feel bad about ourselves. It’s not an accident either. The primary purpose of TV is to sell us something. One of the best ways to do that is by making us unsatisfied with who we are and with what we now have.
Spend enough time watching TV, and you’ll come to doubt yourself, your life, and everything that you have. TV is a form of indoctrination – negative indoctrination. For that reason, you can’t spend too much time watching it.
8Trying to Fix People
Trying to fix people is an exercise in frustration. People don’t always feel they need to be fixed, and in fact they may not need to. And even if they do, they’ll probably resist change enforced by someone else with every fiber of their being.
You can spend a lot of good time and energy trying to fix someone and make no progress at all. If you’re that worried about them, then pray for them. And then focus your attention on fixing the person in the mirror (see Matthew 7:3-5).
9Worrying About Appearances
If you are too concerned with how things look – your home, your car, your appearance, or even how people will perceive how you make a living – you can live a joyless life.
The problem is that somebody else always has something that looks better than what you have. Concentrate on what makes you happy, rather than on how things may appear to other people. They almost certainly care less about how things look in your life than you do, so you’re worrying about nothing.
10Comparing Yourself With Others
This is a tough one because we all have different skills and abilities. If you are in the sales department at your company, and you always compare yourself with the top salesperson, you’re always going to come up short, and that will leave you doubting yourself.
Instead of comparing yourself with others, work on becoming better than what you’ve been in the past. Small, incremental changes made in your life over a long period of time could make a huge positive difference. That needs to be your focus, not comparing yourself with others.
11Ruminating Over Your Troubles
Nothing can steal your joy faster or better than ruminating over your troubles. When you ruminate, it’s usually over something unfortunate that’s happened in the past, or out of fear of an uncertain future outcome.
While you’re busy agonizing over the details of the past event or projecting one for the future, you trap yourself in a state of emotional paralysis. That’s a poor launching pad to deal with any type of uncertainty.
Concentrate on doing the best you can at improving reasonably expected outcomes, then trust that it will all work out one way or another. Events seldom turn out as bad as we think they will, if only because human imagination is virtually unlimited. You always have to be open to the possibility that unknown positives will appear in your situation that will prevent the worst from happening. Prayer is a good way to bring that about.
12Believing You Need to Achieve Perfection
Perfect people only exist on TV – which is another excellent reason that you shouldn’t spend too much time watching it. You’re a human being, with human flaws and weaknesses. That doesn’t make you a failure or unlovable – it just makes you more like everyone else.
Recognize that no one is perfect, and that you’ll never be perfect, and that’s perfectly okay. In the end, life really isn’t about achieving perfection, but rather about achieving happiness as an imperfect person living an imperfect life in an imperfect world.
Free yourself from these attitudes and behaviors, and see if you aren’t suddenly living a more joyful life.
What are some other things that can steal your joy? Leave a comment!