5 Steps to Find Joy When Things Really Suck

by Amy on September 4, 2013

This is Joy.


She’s my third child. My buy 2 get one free baby.

True to her name, she’s pretty joyful. She loves to sing, dance and giggle.

She’s also a little tyrant. That girl is bossy (and sometimes violent).

She’s little but still manages to bully her big brother and sister.

When she’s not happy it’s best to keep your distance. We all know this, Ron, the twins, the cats.

(So far the chickens have enjoyed a pretty event free existence. But they’ve only lived a few months.)

Joy teaches me about “joy”

My daughter Joy is a living, breathing, pull-up wearing metaphor for “joy” in my real life.

She shows up in my dreams to teach me about “joy” and in my waking life she truly is my master teacher.

Ironically she teaches me the most about “joy” when she’s hitting, screaming, crying, bossing, and otherwise pushing me to the very edge of my limits.

Joy is not always what you think…

Because that’s real life.

Sometimes Joy is singing, dancing and giggling.

And sometimes there are warm summer breezes, you enjoy harmonious relationships with your family, you find a 20 dollar bill in your pocket or you get invited to do a speaking gig in NYC.

Other times Joy is kicking and crying on the kitchen floor simultaneously screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOO at the top of her lungs.

Other days, it rains all day even though it’s August, you piss off your sister, you lose your wallet and you find out they found someone “more suitable” to do the talk.

“Joy” is always there.

It isn’t something you wait for, that you earn or deserve. It’s not contingent on the weather, nor is it something you get once your kids are finally out of the house, when you lose 10 pounds or pay off your credit card.

When my daughter Joy is a terror, sometimes I get angry. I put her in time out. I march her up to her room. In other words, I fight her.

And it always makes things worse. She gets more upset. The other kids get upset. My husband, the cats, even the chickens do too. And I temporarily feel like a hopeless asshole.

Finding the “joy”

What I’m learning to do is focus my attention on the “joy” that is always there no matter what.

It could be the way Anthony is completely oblivious to the drama because he’s so enraptured with his new Ninjago lego robot.
It could be the smell of take out that my husband has just brought into the kitchen.
It could be a memory of the time we went to Disneyland when all 3 kids ran gleefully through the hotel holding tight to those Mickey Mouse balloons.

Sometimes the “joy” is in the very situation that is torturing me. There is always something so ridiculous about it that I can laugh about when I’m not taking things so seriously.

And when I’m able to narrow in on that “joy” and really feel it. Bam! 9 times out of 10 my little tyrant calms down. It all passes and giggling ensues.

Real life is not always rainbows and butterflies

So remember that in life there will always be ups and downs. Some days you will feel like the victim of a truly epic temper tantrum.

Don’t resist it. Find the joy. It’s hiding right before your eyes. When you do, things will turn around, I promise.

5 Steps to Find Joy When Things Really Suck

  1. When things go bad, stop resisting it by telling yourself how things “should” be going.
  2. Remember that joy is there. Your job is to find it. It might be a memory or something beautiful in your surroundings. Maybe it’s somebody in your life.
  3. Once you find something, take some time to let that joy sink in. Feel it. Imagine it sinking right into your heart.
  4. When in doubt, see if you can find something funny about the situation. Even when I was six months pregnant with the twins and grieving the sudden death of my mom, I was able to find plenty of ridiculous in the events around that situation that made me and my sisters belly laugh until we cried. See how it goes yourself.
  5. Watch what happens! Usually you’ll be pleasantly surprised. This will lead you to want to find the joy more and more and before you know it, bam!, it’s a habit!

Now it’s your turn. Where is “joy” hiding in your life, that before this post you hadn’t recognized? Please share!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Coco September 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm

If you don’t mind, I’d love to put you on my EveryBody list. Your authenticity bleeds through your posts & is sooo inspiring to me. ~Coco


Amy October 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Oh Coco! I would love to be in your Everybody. Thank you so much for your words. I’m not sure why I didn’t see your comment until now but it truly made my day. Thank you.


Michelle Reinhardt February 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

Thanks so much for this Amy. There is always joy available and I really appreciate the reminder. Your wise words of wisdom are always there for me. xx


Sarah January 7, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Great stuff here. Just found you, so in case you haven’t written anything recently, I hope you do. What you say is (1) the truth, (2) something we can’t hear too often or in too many different forms, (3) lovingly honest.

Thanks for putting yourself out there.


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