5 tips to a joyful life

It's been a couple weeks since I started my #refresh journey. I've made some distinct changes and choices in my life, and restructured some things that were already on the right track! On random Wednesdays I'll be sharing what I'm learning, things I think others should know, tips and tricks, and all sorts of things.

I love the line above by Jessi Connolly about how we can be that girl. We can be the one who speaks life into those who meet her. We can be the one who just seems to have it going on. Not because of things, but because of a good heart attitude.

Today I want to share a 5 quick tips to help build a more joyful and genuine life!

1. Make it a habit to smile more than you frown.

When I was in high school, I went to a birthday party where the parents filmed part of the party and then we watched it later. I had been having a pretty decent time, but when I saw myself on video, I realized I had been frowning with my arms crossed. I made a decision right then and there that I would be known for smiles not frowns. It was a conscious decision at the time, took some time to put into practice, and is now a really easy thing for me.

I don't mean a fake smile. Genuine joy isn't about faking happiness. Genuine joy is a decision that God has done good work and so I can walk out a life filled with joy. And for me that means more smiles than frowns.

2. Don't use social media to air laundry.

Whether somebody hurt your feelings, somebody hurt your friend's feelings, somebody hurt your mom's feelings, or anything at all - social media isn't the place to talk about it.

I'm not an expert at this because I get frustrated and tweet things from a grumpy heart. But in most cases, I go back and delete them.

I know that it's easy to share things online, and it does make us feel better, but it really doesn't show off a good side of yourself. AND I am not saying that we're only meant to show off our good sides. We should show the mess in with the pretty, but I have one rule for my social media: that it never is allowed to hurt anybody.

There are a whole lot of grumpy people on the internet, unaffectionately called trolls. Let's never be those people!

3.  Limit your use of strong words.

This rule applies to profanities, words like "always", and anything that causes you to raise your voice.

This is in no way a hard and fast rule for my life, but I do notice that people who use profanities in their natural speech tend to speak more negatively than those who don't. And nobody likes a negative Nancy. Nobody.

I have (and have had) a lot of friends and colleagues who swear a lot, and when I listen to them talk, their words seem dull. I tune them out because I'm sick of how they talk. I think that a well-timed strong word is far more effective than a thousand ill-timed words. Not only with profanities, but just with words that hold power.

Our words are something we can never take back. I'd rather hold my tongue than wish I'd held it.

4. Spend more time being kind to others than you expect kindness back.

I forget this rule the most often because I'm all kinds of selfish. But the seasons where I spend more time serving, encouraging, and loving out than doing serving myself, seeking encouragement, and looking for people to love me - those seasons are definitely more joyful.

A few weeks ago, on a day where life wasn't my favourite, I wrote from a place of hurt. By the time I'd finished typing, I was at peace. I'd found my comfort as I'd considered hope and grace. The comments were so encouraging to me, and one in particular stuck out to me by my friend Lindsey.

She encouraged me to look outward. It was just the push I needed. Life was busy and full, but the next day (or a few days later), I sat down and wrote about 25 cards to friends. As I wrote each one, I found encouragement in my own heart. Loving my neighbour helped me to love life again, and feel far more like myself. Making time for the things that fill you up with joy will give you the boost to get through the things that you don't.

These are just four basic things that I do. I'm no expert in joy, but I've been told by many that I have a joyful spirit, that kindness seems fluent to me, and that I always seem to be in a good mood. While I can promise that I'm not always happy or joyful, I have learnt that the joy of the Lord is my strength.
 So one final tip is this:

5. Cast your cares upon Jesus.

Jesus did all that He did so that we could experience life, life to the full. I know that life bogs us down, but I also know that we were never meant to carry our own burdens. We're meant to hand them straight to Jesus. That's the easiest way for me to find joy. When I become extra burdened, I make sure to take a few minutes praying thanksgiving for what God has done. He takes my cares, the good ones and the hard ones, and relieves me of trying to play god.

Those are 5 basic tips to a joyful life. But what do you do? How do you foster joy in your life? Did I miss something important? Did I get one wrong?