How Can You Find Joy (or at Least Peace) During Difficult Times?

In Chicago you often hear people say there are only two seasons here, hot and cold. I know those are not seasons, but that is the expression we use. Having lived most of my life in Chicago, I can assure you that we really do have four seasons. When I was a child, I found pleasure in every one of them. In spring, I would put on a jacket, go outside, and play games like ‘Mother May I’ or red light, green light, or hopscotch. In the summer, I enjoyed running through the water in our back yard as the sprinkler went from side to side. I relished the sound of crunching dry leaves under my feet in the fall. I loved making snow angels in the winter. Isn’t it wonderful how children can find joy in small things? I know not every child has a carefree childhood. Some do experience trauma. But usually, there is a small window of time in childhood when we are oblivious of problems.  As we age, however, we can get bogged down with the cares of life ─worrying about paying mortgages, or college tuition for children, or caring for aging parents, or hoping that you won’t lose your job as the economy gets worse. These concerns often make it difficult to focus on the good things that occur in life. Joy can be an elusive concept, especially during difficult times.

This article explains that although joy and happiness are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between them. “Happiness technically refers to the pleasurable feelings (emotions) that result from a situation, experience, or objects, whereas joy is a state of mind that can be found even in times of grief or uncertainty.” For example, winning a race may give you short-term happiness. Spending time engaging in meaningful activities or tending to relationships that nourish us may result in long-term joy. This indicates that “we can work on cultivating joy independent of our circumstances.” The article offers several ideas to help us modify our routines in ways that may allow us to experience joy. It may take some trial and error to find what works best for you. But finding ways to change our thinking in some areas and making changes to our daily routines can increase the likelihood of our finding joy more often. Experiencing joy more often has some surprising benefits. The article suggests that it may provide long-lasting physical and mental health benefits and can help us live longer. A second article suggests ten (10) ways to find or create joy at work. The article begins by asking “Is a joy-filled job an oxymoron?” The author says “no” and proceeds to describe simple, but effective ways to infuse joy into your job, your career, and your life. Deep down joy can be a source of strength even when we are going through tough times.