GIFTS – An acronym for the joy you carry

Taken from my e-book “Finding Joy During the Holidays When You’re in Your Thirties & Feel Broke” the following excerpt is still relevant all times of the year. We all experience brokenness in this life. It can look like feeling broken over painful world events, financial brokenness, relational brokenness, brokenness within our goals and dreams that don’t seem to be panning out and we’re already at an age where it seems like “will it ever change”, loss of loved ones, and feeling physically broken with illness pain.

When I wrote the short e-book, it was with a specific season, “The Holiday” season, in mind. With the holidays, it seems like everything should be pleasant and joyful! It’s the holidays! So there is an added level of buzz around our feelings when they really don’t align with the season. But the truth is that brokenness and the pain of the here and now seem to follow us when we don’t have the strength and power of joy.

And with that, I hope the following excerpt brings a sense of joy to you. (To get the full context- download your copy now.)

I’ve come up with an acronym to help you remember all that you truly have at your disposal this Holiday season that can help you tap into true joy (historical definition: calm delight and inner gladness). GIFTS stands for Giving, Inspiration, Forgiveness, Thankfulness, and Spark. The GIFTS acronym will help to reassure you that joy is attainable, it doesn’t have to live far away from who you are and what you carry, and you have more gifts in you this Holiday season than you may realize.

Giving

Though it may not seem like you have extra to spare, you can still still choose to give. Giving is one way to choose joy. Some examples of giving during times of (financial) struggle are to give of your time (volunteer, babysit for free); give of your talent (if you’re a photographer, you can take photos of a friend or co-worker as a gift); give of your home (like inviting a neighbor over for dinner one night).

Inspiration

Joy is inspirational, and so are YOU. You can choose joy by inspiring others with kind words and actions. These don’t have to cost anything. Sending your supervisor an appreciative email or helping someone with their groceries next time you see someone with a loaded cart at the store are examples of how you can inspire others.

Forgiveness

Joy can’t thrive if you have bitterness in your heart against others; it’s time to forgive. Are you holding onto anything that you need to let go of that’s hurting you? Joy will immediately start to flow in and through you when you let go of that which no longer serves you or is yours to carry. It’s time to forgive and let the past be in the past. Joy lives right on the heels of forgiveness.

Thankfulness

It’s almost impossible to not feel joy when you are truly thankful! Keeping a list of people, events, and things you are thankful for nearby, especially in the midst of troubles can bring that inner calm that we talked about before. Thankfulness is a value that joy is partnered with. Despite problems around you, recognizing what do have and are thankful for will initiate joy.

Spark

Lastly, joy sometimes starts as a little spark that can turn into a sustainable fire. We all have a spark in us. We all can tap into that place that no one else can and see joy. Think about the spark that you alone have and can spread. By choosing to seize the unique, beautiful gifts and personality traits that you have intrinsically, joy can arise out of what you see as ashes and fan into something big, warm, and sustainable. Joy is the spark that sustains us through the bad, even when [we feel broken down when we see devastating world events.] Once again, joy lets us face our circumstances with strength.

I will add that though joy is strength and does bring a sense of calm when things in the world and our personal lives go wrong, it’s okay to NOT be strong. It’s okay when joy seems illusive to the circumstances of our lives and things we are going through. It’s okay to feel devastated when we hear devastating news. It’s okay to allow others to help you carry the burdens of life that you can’t carry alone. Joy is one of many dynamic lenses we put on (with or without trying) to view the world around us.

GIFTS speak to the joy that we can choose. The joy we can tap into. The joy that gives us strength and can help us keep going. And GIFTS is a way to get there WHEN WE ARE READY. In the meantime, allow yourself to feel grief, sadness, anger and the whole spectrum of emotions during trying, upsetting, broken times.

Are You Trying to Find Joy During the Holiday Season, When You’re in Your Thirties and Feeling Broke?

This post, and the book and journal options that are available, are for you. The following excerpt is from a short book I recently wrote in my own season of feeling broken in many ways, including financially, not long ago. I decided to actually sit down and study joy: what is it and how do I get more of it when I just don’t feel it? After getting clarity and breakthrough, I decided to write and package my book in a way that others can find joy too!

You can purchase the book and Reflective Journal for yourself! The journal includes access to an online community to get support, quotes, guided questions, and action steps to really put joy into action this season, just where and how you are now. To get the book and journal click on the photos below or these links: FINDING JOY BOOK || FINDING JOY JOURNAL


Part 1 – What is Joy Really?

Finding joy in a “season of joy” when you don’t feel it, but instead all you feel is broke. Wow. That’s a tough one. And something that I wrestled with too long before sitting down and deciding that I was going to understand this joy word: what it is and how do I find it. Three little letters that pack a huge punch J-O-Y. And to feel the full weight of the word and really understand it, it’s almost like you need to know the opposite: Misery, Trials, Tribulation, and Brokenness. If you’re reading this now, you’re probably fully aware of one tribulation: feeling broke in a season of giving and… joy.

In this short book, we’ll look at a couple of exact definitions of joy, but first we have to understand something super important: Joy is not happiness, it supersedes our circumstances, and it actually brings strength to the person who chooses to grasp it. This is
why I bring up knowing the opposite of joy. Because sometimes it is through the very things we hate in life the brokenness, misery, trials, and walking through tribulations- that joy can show its face and have lasting impact in the moment and carry us beyond the moment.

By definition joy is, “joy, calm delight, or inner gladness.” This definition comes from the ancient Greek word “chara.”* There are many other definitions such as: gladness, mirth, or as dictionary.com defines it, “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Joy sounds happy and light! It sounds like a great thing. So why does this great, happy thing seem so hard to grasp, especially with the Holiday season? Gifts, parties, dinners, Secret-Santas, things to do, people to see, and EVERYTHING COSTS SOMETHING! From first-hand experience, when you feel broke all the good can twist up quickly and become a point of anxiety and fear. But if we understand that joy is available to us DESPITE the trials and tribulations in life, we can approach the season with openness and even joy. So let’s unpack and understand the definitions of joy by looking at where we can see it in day-to-day life…

Do not wait to experience joy this season! Get your book and journal today. It will be worth it.

The book offers insight and clarity from someone (myself) with first hand experience in finding freedom from feeling broke, experiencing joy instead.

The journal includes:

  • Guided questions to help get to the heart of the matter
  • Extra pages to journal
  • Quotes to turn back to when you need hope
  • Action steps that you can take now
  • AND the opportunity to join an online community for support in this season

*Audry, “Words of Faith Hope and Love,” https://www.wordsoffaithhopelove.com/what-is-joy-inthe-bible/

3 Tips for Hard Seasons in Life

PC: Ryan Christodoulou

For anyone that knows me well, I’m a pretty positive person with a lot of goals and fearlessness when it comes to moving, traveling, and trying new things. I’m also a pretty motivated person to take action and face challenges in front of me with motivation and a positive mindset.

That said, for about five months I’ve really fallen out of my norm and have felt pretty lost.

I’ve had a long five to six months of marriage/ life in my husband’s country. It’s been exhausting really. Culture shock, marriage shock, living with in-laws shock… Not to mention the behind-the-scenes extreme fighting between my husband and I—not what I expected when we would talk about life in his country leading up to my moving here!

Outside of social media I felt lost and confused. I questioned every life decision leading me to this point trying to figure out where I went wrong in making it here to this place.

Then, a few simple changes have pushed me in a positive trajectory in the last 30 days and I am in a MUCH better place now than before. I feel a little bit more like myself and every day I am getting closer to feeling motivated with life and work by running the course marked out for my life.

That said, I know we’ve all experienced hard days, weeks, months, and years. And I’m here to share three tips to encourage you. These are things I’ve been doing this entire season of stress and change, and I hope they can help you as well!

  1. Surround Yourself With People Who Care

Who is your team? Your tribe? Who loves you most? Who can you call on and open up to without fear or judgement? Bring those people into your circle ASAP because that is going to make the difference between feeling alone in the world, and feeling capable of conquering the world. Not everyone should know all the nitty gritty details of horrible things you are going through in life. But some should. Your relationships matter and I promise by calling the lifeline of friends or family who have your back fully, you will be empowered. Even if circumstances don’t change in the physical sense right away, by leaning into your community, you will notice things around you shifting and moving just in how you interpret and process life with others. Relationships matter so much to getting back to a place of motivation and positive change.

I opened up to a few people in my life and knowing they are praying, having them hear me, and accepting words of comfort, affirmation, and empowerment though we are countries apart. It is more meaningful than anything.

2. Diet and Sleep

Your diet and drinking plenty of water through the day has more of an effect on your mental emotional state than you may realize. See, your mood is actually enhanced by the good or bad bacteria in your gut; gut health matters and has a direct effect on your brain and the amount of serotonin produced. By keeping a healthy microbiome and by getting probiotics and even practicing intermittent fasting to help your gut health, you can help your general well-being and mood. Here and here are articles to start with that explains more on gut health and mental health, if you are interested in extra reading.

Along with that, is getting plenty of rest through the night. In a basic sense, your brain chemistry re-calibrates, heals, balances, and allows new growth through periods of sleep and rest that you cannot get any other way. Your hormones balance out and your long-term memory kicks in. Sleep is a vital part of letting your body recoup and regroup that no other action you take while awake can help you achieve the same results in order to feel and live your best. A really great, easy to read article on sleep and improved mental-emotional health is this.

3. Watch What You Watch

One huge thing that has made the difference of a “blah” day or a “worse-than-blah” day, during these months of confusion that I had been living is truly what media I was ingesting. Music, shows, news, books, and other entertainment—the power of healthy and uplifting messages in the things I was watching and listening vs not so healthy or uplifting truly matters. My husband, a big music person, at one point told me he got rid of all kinds of music on his phone with negative self-talk and negative messages on women and relationships. This action step was good and is something I can respect on his end. For me, I learned quickly news and can be turned off if its not adding value. The movies can be turned off if they aren’t adding value. The music can be switched out if it’s not adding value. Instead, I started picking up healthier books through personal recommendation and a Leadership Training Program I went through from October 2020 through December 2020 and the impact was huge.

In any event, these three steps are things that I am taking seriously to maintain as I get mentally stronger once more. By focusing on what I can control and letting go of what I can’t, I’m feeling like my normal self once more as I was designed by my Creator.

What tips do you have when you consider getting off track the course you want to be on when it comes to living a positive, motivated life? Anything you would add to this list?


For anyone interested in reading material that helped me during these months, here are some books that made a world of impact for me:

I also read The Heart Work: Declutter Your Past to Make Room for an Amazing Future by Jackie Dorman and You Deserve the Love of God by Stephen Hill, which are two books that are more God-centered and encouraging on a spiritual level.