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Something happened at work the other day that really got me going.  I steamed and stewed over the incompetent behavior of another person because it impacted the ability to perform my job.  Well, you know what?  They were just zipping around breezing through their day and here I was stewing most of the work day as a result of their mess.  But I still met my deadline!

As I was relaxing at home later that evening I realized this person stole my joy.  Instead of being my normal happy-go-lucky self, letting things roll off my back, I allowed this person to get under my skin.  They stole my joy.  And I didn’t like it.

It made me think there are so many things that can steal our joy:

  • Frustration
  • Discouragement
  • Discontentment
  • Unforgiveness
  • Criticism
  • Gossip
  • Fear
  • Negativity
  • Incompetence
  • Envy
  • Jealousy
  • Lack

joy stealersThings, and people, that steal our joy always bring negativity.  I view negativity as focused attention on a behavior, action or interaction that is either an actual or a perceived threat. In my situation, I was threatened that I would not meet the deadline for my client because of the failed actions of another person which made me feel anxious and frustrated.  I had to pause and refocus on how I would complete my task, in less time than originally scheduled, and still meet the established timeline.

Negativity often brings out the worst in us because it is the polar opposite of, and a direct threat, to our immediate happiness.  The effects of negativity include:

1.  The manifestation of physical symptoms (e.g., tense muscles, increased blood pressure, headache, stomach ache, diarrhea, etc.), anxiety or depression.

2.  Raised voices, arguments, disagreements, a sharp tongue with words that tumble out as a jumbled, twisty, messy stream of irrational thoughts, complaints, worries and frustrations.

3.  Development of strong emotions such as self-doubt, criticism, anger and extreme rage.

4.  Emotional shut down and internalization of negative feelings and emotions.

To rid ourselves of negativity, stop for a minute and think about what it is you have control over.  Refocus your thoughts.  Become unbiased.  Don’t place blame or be the victim.  Remove or excuse yourself from the situation if you can.  Stop the negative chatter.  Practice forgiveness.  Find the gratitude in the moment.  This will restore your joy and your peace.

This is one of my favorite scriptures on remaining joyful and being grateful regardless of what life throws our way.  One translation says “Be joyful always!”

Always be joyful.  Always keep on praying.  No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Things will happen that make us negative.   We cannot escape it.  We don’t smile through pain, crisis, sorrow, the loss of a loved one and other negative or traumatic life experiences.  However, I believe the way we respond makes us emotionally resilient and allows us to bounce back from the minor or major struggles, trials and hardships in life.  The scripture above commands us to “always be thankful”.  Find ways to turn any negativity into joy and gratitude.  Regardless of the circumstance there is always an element of gratitude.

What steals your joy and how do you reclaim it?