What Brings you Joy

In all honesty, “choosing” joy is not an easy thing. At least, not amidst those times of struggle, doubt, and despair when we really need it the most. You know those times when the best antidote becomes the hardest.  Like when I’m tired and cranky, choosing to embrace the defined “feeling of great pleasure and happiness,” or “to rejoice,” feels out of the question.  But like anything worth fighting for, I have found this spirit of joy something highly worth my time and effort to continually pursue.

When I do decide to choose joy, I have less room to be ungrateful, jealous, complain, or turn myself too inward. I can lift my exhausted spirit, and focus on something good. As Christians, we know the greatest good and true joy in the Resurrection of our Lord! How worthwhile then is our time to cultivate an attitude of joy, a fruit given to us by the spirit of God, during this beautiful Easter season!

However, as I try to cultivate joy in a practical sense, I know my fallen nature tendencies need concrete tools. Playing on my list loving nature, I have found making a “joy-list” one of the best ways. As the brilliant Henry Nouwen reminds us, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Keeping this “joy-list” of 10-15 practical things I can do is one way to help me make that choice.  It’s currently a very fluid process that I am constantly editing, (I could easily go on to make lists all day ;) You could modify this to anyway that might help you the most. I try to have a mix of things I can do quickly in the moment, while at work or home dealing with little kids, and things I love to do when I have more of a block of alone time. Some work better at times than others, & you might have to be ‘in the mood,’ for a specific one. Making it very personal & specific is the most useful. I use an index card to write my list down and tape to the inside of my journal and near my work desk. You could keep a list in your phone, use a bookmark reminder, or tape your list to the inside of a cabinet door etc. Very similar to the effects of writing a daily gratitude list, the act of taking the time to reflect on practical joy strategies makes it easier to actually implement, become an interior habit, and prevents looking for joy in unfulfilling overindulgences, namely excessive Neflix, food or Facebook binges (shout out to my Blessed is She ladies who recently studied the virtue of temperance with me ;) more to come on that later!)

Here is my current joy list:

What Brings Me Joy:

  • Smiling at someone else
  • Looking at my family pictures
  • Blasting my favorite county song on my kitchen sonos
  • Getting out a songbook & singing a favorite song in my dining room.
  • Looking at a crucifix or hold my rosary, saying “thank you Jesus.”
  • Making a quick gratitude list
  • Texting my husband I love you or writing a love note 
  • Looking at one of my current lists- favorite quotes, favorite saints, personal goals 
  • Watching one of my husband’s business’ wedding videos
  • Going to adoration with my journal
  • Reading a book in my reading chair or going to Barns & Noble
  • Going to the gym listening to Meghan Trainor station
  • Cleaning my house alone, mopping my hardwood floors  

Practice makes perfect. If I want to become better at choosing joy, I have to continue finding ways to make my practice simpler & more effective. I have found having this quick reference joy list one of them.

Let’s keep asking the Lord to bless us with the gifts of his Spirit, for He promises, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete,” John 16:24.

Thanks for reading & I hope this helps you to add little moments of joy to your day!



With Joy,



Alex DeRose1 Comment