Find Joy In The Little Things For Your Mental Health

When I fractured my wrist I soon learned that there were a lot of things in my busy life that I assumed I would always be able to do. For instance, getting dressed by myself. Once things returned to normal, I was ecstatic.

Those weeks of needing help got me wondering. How many other things did I just take for granted? Rather than having a panic attack, I should find joy in the little things that I still had going for me.

It isn’t until we lose some big things that we realize how important all the little moments are, things as simple as morning coffee after a good night’s sleep or encouraging text messages from a friend. 

Why is it important to celebrate small things?

Most people want to be happy. Yet, life often throws curveballs in our direction.

We can become so obsessed with the problems we face that we totally forget that we still have much to be thankful for.

When you add up all the small things, we truly are blessed. And blessed people are happy people, in spite of circumstances.

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
― Victor Frankl (1)

You see, finding joy in the simple things of everyday life is one way to exercise our freedom of choice.

In case you are not familiar with Victor Frankl, he was a rising mental health physician when world war two broke out.

“In 1942, just nine months after his marriage, Frankl and his family were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. His father died there of starvation and pneumonia. In 1944, Frankl and the surviving members of his family were transported to Auschwitz, where his mother and brother were murdered in the gas chambers. His wife died later of typhus in Bergen-Belsen. Frankl spent three years in four concentration camps.” (2)

Of all people, Victor Frankl knew the importance of finding joy in the simplest things.

But just how do you do that given such horrible circumstances when life might not seem worth living?

How do you find joy in little things?

The Bible gives us our first clue into having a good day even without many of the material things we have come to expect in life. 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Being grateful is a learned behavior. It has to be practiced to become second nature. 

Just look at the two-year-olds in your life, present or past.

Complaining or throwing a tantrum is human nature when things don’t go our way.

We must learn how to navigate unpleasant circumstances with positive thinking. 

Find joy in the little things daily

Practice makes perfect including finding real happiness in life’s little joys. So what exactly are we talking about? Here are a few examples.

  • I have teeth to help me chew food. Then my toothbrush and toothpaste make it possible to keep my teeth clean.
  • I have a place to sleep. Furthermore, I have soft, comfortable bed covers to keep me warm.
  • I have a Bible which helps me know God better. And in order to read my Bible, at some point in time, I was taught how to read.
  • I have clothes to protect my body from the elements.

We can thank God for all of these gifts and abilities, along with many other simple pleasures.

But what happens if we don’t have these things? Some people in the world don’t, especially if they are forced to leave their homes and familiar surroundings.

Can we still find joy and life satisfaction? Can we have positive emotions when all the big events in life seem to be negative? Yes, we can, and here are some examples.

  • I am still loved by God, and Jesus still died so that I could have a relationship with God the Father.
  • My heart is still beating and I am still breathing.
  • God still promises to make something good from all the horrible things that life sometimes sends us, if we love Him (Romans 8:28)
  • We are promised that God gives us the power to live for Him under any circumstances. (Philippians 4:13)
  • I still have memories from the past that can’t be taken away by any human.
  • If I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I have the hope of heaven someday.
  • God’s creation and the beauty of nature are still daily reminders that He loves me- butterflies, rain, changing colors of the sunset, and so much more.

To find joy in the little things means that we choose to be grateful for all of God’s blessings on a daily basis. This can easily be done by keeping a gratitude journal.

Do small things with great joy

Next time you are not sure if you have anything to be joyful about, try this. Pick a small task and begin to do it. With each step, thank God that:

  • You have the mental capacity to be able to do each step.
  • Your health has allowed you to be able to do the task physically.
  • You are not a puppet in the hands of a puppet master but can choose your activities and attitudes.

Purpose and meaning can be found in anything we do for God in our daily lives such as:

  • taking care of children or another family member
  • preparing a meal for someone
  • doing a job for an employer
  • washing clothes or dishes

The smallest things can be done with great enthusiasm. But finding joy in the little things is a choice.

Graphic of the phrase, "choose joy".  Finding joy in the little things is a choice.
Choose Joy

A personal example of choosing joy

I spent one year at a Canadian college years ago. All students were assigned “student work”. Much to my dismay, I was assigned the cleaning the women’s restrooms.

This indeed seemed lacking in meaning and purpose. In the beginning, I dreaded my student work. This was not my idea of the pursuit of happiness. 

Yet as the days progressed, I chose to find joy in hearing the echo of my voice against the tile walls of the restrooms as I sang my favorite song.

Then it became a goal to see how clean I could make the showers for the feet of those who would use them. It actually became a beautiful thing as my feel-good hormones began to kick in. 

By the end of the school year, I did not mind cleaning the restrooms. It gave me time alone to think and talk to God as I worked.

I could have grumbled and complained about my student work. But instead, I chose joy.

Final thoughts

Most everyone has heard the saying, “The straw that broke the camel’s back.” A small piece of straw weighs almost nothing. But many pieces combined together add up to something big.

Likewise, every little thing that we find joy in builds a strong infrastructure that helps prevent the collapse of our emotional well-being.

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”  Victor Frankl (1)

God has given us so many little things that make life meaningful. And our relationship with Him gives us great purpose.

Joy can be ours regardless of circumstances. But it is our choice. It begins with having a solid relationship with Jesus.

If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at Chat About Jesus have answers. You can text, call, or chat with them online any time of the day or night.

Be sure to also read:

References

  1. Goodreads author quotes
  2. Wikipedia

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