What to Do When You’re Not Feeling “Joy to the World”

shutterstock_233694844How interesting that for many people the “Season to be Jolly” is often filled with a sense of sadness and depression. Even those who revel in the true meaning of Christmas can find themselves feeling the holiday blues.

Having been there and done that, I don’t want to do it again. I did some research and discovered that it is a common occurrence. So how can we experience a brighter Christmas when we begin to feel the “Pinch of the Grinch?”

Approach the Season with Realistic Expectations

We often expect that the music and spirit of the season itself will bring more joy than other times of the year. In reality the pressures of Christmas can often make the season more stressful than other times of the year. Don’t expect the euphoria that the culture demands.

The only festive mood surrounding the first Christmas came from a heavenly host proclaiming a heavenly promise. The stable was devoid of  wreaths, music or bells. The smells were far from what we would identify with Christmas today. But hope lay there in the hay. He was the source of joy.

I think we often expect Christmas to feel more like the celebration of our own birthday than an opportunity to celebrate the Savior’s birth. Rarely would we go to a friend’s birthday expecting them to make us feel good.  Instead we go hoping to bring joy and love to our friend. In celebrating them we come away filled with a deeper more profound sense of joy. Celebrate Christ with unrestrained praise. Watch what happens.

Approach the Season with Expectancy 

If we don’t approach the season expecting the trials of life to suddenly disappear, the focus subtly shifts from inward negative reflection to outward worship, service and anticipation. In expectation we look for the blessings of God in things that don’t depend on tradition or social pressure; the hug of a child, a long conversation with a friend over a cup of steaming coffee, a quiet time of thankful reflection or the intensified significance of a Sunday worship service.

With expectancy watch for God to show up. Look for him everywhere. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Approach the Season with a Plan to Serve

This morning I spent two precious hours helping some neighbors prepare for the winter. At first I thought of them as precious hours stolen by the unexpected need to be there for my friends. After all, I had to write this blog post, I had important stuff to do. As I drove away with my spirits lifted I realized it was being there for them that made the hours precious.

Why wait for the unexpected? Why not plan to volunteer somewhere? Once again it’s that subtle shift from inward focus to outward focus that works miracles on the spirit. As you pass the neighbor walking their dog, stop! Inquire about their day. Wish them a merry Christmas. Give joy and you will feel it coming back to you.

Approach the Season in Motion

Don’t let yourself become a vegetable for a month just because it’s the holidays. Vegetables have a very hard time celebrating. Turn off the television, you will find very little joy there. Pull the handle on the easy chair then stand up and walk to the door. Thirty minutes of any kind of activity that raises your heart rate is better than any pill the doctor is allowed to give you. Walk, run, play catch with a child, or try to catch a child. You will feel the difference for hours.

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to rest in peace. That’s not the kind of peace you want for Christmas.

Keep moving. It renews your spirit to be expectant, your body to serve and your heart to feel the joy that God wants for you every day of every season.

I pray that you will experience true and lasting joy this Christmas season and throughout the new year.  

I will consider your comments a gift! 

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12 thoughts on “What to Do When You’re Not Feeling “Joy to the World”

  1. Great article for those feeling the pinch of the Grinch this season. Loved that quote! It is a difficult time of year for many. I found the words Happy, Peace, and Joy don’t fit every person’s life right now, but sometimes a hug or smile will hold them over until time moves on a bit and the wounds have healed over some.

  2. I absolutely love Christmas. The past three have been so hard (my daughter has been missing since 2014). The point I got out of this is that all too often I’ve made Christmas about me and my daughter. Making us happy and joyful. Not a bad thing necessarily but it’s not about us, it’s about Him! It’s always best to spend our time focused on Him and not our circumstances. Praise Him and give thanks in all things!

  3. Merry Christmas.
    Thank-you for your thoughts.
    Today I am helping make and pack cheer boxes for neighbors.
    Our church packed and sent 75 shoebox gifts for operation Christmas child. (We are a church of 20 families!)
    Christmas spirit!

  4. ” watch for God to show up” precisely!
    I wait for Christmas Eve when I reflect on God becoming human to bring us back to him… he wants to have a relationship with him. Its counter cultural in my church to preach that but that is how I “roll”. When you get that then you can build community. Jesus told us to come to him. He did not say build a community…

  5. I have found it difficult to feel joy this year mostly because of health issues and estrangement of family members with each other which has changed the dynamics of our Christmas gatherings for about 3 years now. So I appreciate your remarks today. We have a volunteer party this week to minister to inmate’s children who otherwise might not have much so I’m sure that will help. I’ve always enjoyed doing those type things and giving at Christmas time. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

  6. Thanks for your observations. I think they apply much more to people with just a mild malaise than those who are approaching the season with deep grief and loss issues. There are lots of folks out there who are in real pain and not just Grinch-pinched. We are doing a service of Light and Remembrance at our church to allow people a safe place to worship, reflect, remember. We should encourage people to be kind to those who don’t feel the seasonal high for real-life issues. That can also get us off the sofa and out into the world when we seek to come alongside of those who need TLC, and not just to tell them to be happy and focus on Christmas meanings. They need to have someone listen and value their stories as well.

  7. Thank you for the blog post. It tells me to focus on others and especially, most of all, Jesus Christ, first. It’s not about me, but Him. I take my eyes off my comforts and happiness and look for the joy that God shares with us, His people.

  8. I always have a very hard time getting through Christmas for many different reasons. This was very helpful. Thank you so much.

  9. Thank you Mr. Davis for this truly enlightening way that we should approach Christmas!
    I loved it! and will be sending it on to my 20 something daughter who has a hard time with depression. My heart breaks for her heart seemingly so sad right now, so this is also so very helpful to me.
    It’s not about us! (hard one to learn) but about the greatest gift we were ever given at Christmas, or ever will be, a Savior. I like what comment Becky below said, it’s so true –
    We should encourage people to be kind to those who don’t feel the seasonal high for real-life issues. That can also get us off the sofa and out into the world when we seek to come alongside of those who need TLC, and not just to tell them to be happy and focus on Christmas meanings. They need to have someone listen and value their stories as well.
    Thank you Ken, here’s your gift! of a comment! Merry Christmas to you and yours, keep on keeping on!

  10. Thank you Mr. Davis for this truly enlightening way that we should approach Christmas!
    I loved it! and will be sending it on to my 20 something daughter who has a hard time with depression. My heart breaks for her heart seemingly so sad right now, so this is also so very helpful to me.
    It’s not about us! (hard one to learn) but about the greatest gift we were ever given at Christmas, or ever will be, a Savior. I like what comment Becky below said, it’s so true –
    We should encourage people to be kind to those who don’t feel the seasonal high for real-life issues. They need to have someone listen and value their stories as well.
    Thank you Ken, here’s your gift! of a comment! Merry Christmas to you and yours, keep on keeping on!