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Did you know recent studies show that less than 20% of us say we’re happy?

I know. I know. I was shocked, too.

Of course, I sensed personal peace, joy, and satisfaction were on the decline in recent years—you’ve probably sensed it, too. But, according to researchers, happiness has reached a five-decade low.

Recently, author Pam Farrell was a guest on my “That’s Just What I Needed” podcast and we discussed how to cultivate joy in our lives. While writing her newest devotional, “Growing a Joyful Heart” (by the way, I’m giving away a copy to one lucky winner!) Pam ended up in an emergency medically induced coma. To say that Pam had to learn to cultivate joy despite her circumstances is no understatement!

Today, I put some of Pam’s suggestions (and scientific findings) into practice. In the process, I learned something I knew I had to share with you.

But, let me tell you the backstory, first.

Like everyone, my life contains highs and lows, all at the same time (although nothing nearly as dramatic as a coma!) A few days ago, I started to feel overwhelmed by some of the silly lows that I’ve managed to handle pretty well over the last few months.  Here’s a short list:

  • Our master shower hasn’t worked since December of 2022 and we have a hole in our wall from “in process” repairs.
  • A few weeks ago, an upstairs toilet leaked through the ceiling below, one hour before houseguests arrived. As a result, we had no water for three days (“Welcome to our home. Please don’t shower. And by the way, you can’t flush the toilet!”) We are now the proud owners of a giant hole in our living room ceiling as we wait for repairs.
  • We came home from vacation to find major damage to our hardwood floors in the bathroom, kitchen, entry hall, and living room from another toilet leak.
  • I recorded five messages for a new Bible study series last Monday while sick with the flu.

Of course, none of these things is life-altering. They are just little annoyances that everyone faces. My life is not different from yours. You could list a highlight reel of headaches, too.

However, when enough little problems pile on top of each other, they can easily steal peace and joy.

And here’s the thing: We cannot maintain our spiritual or emotional health over long periods without joy. This is why learning how to cultivate joy despite our circumstances is vital to our emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

God said it clearly in Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” When our joy falters, eventually our strength does, too.  In Philippians 3 we read, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is a safeguard for you.”

Wait. Rejoicing is a safeguard? A safeguard from what, exactly?

From anxiety.

From stress.

From worry.

From defeat.

From resentment.

From pessimism.

From hopelessness.

These things have permeated our culture in the last few years.


Because we’ve lost our ability to find joy wherever God gives it.

Life’s headaches in all their various forms are here to stay. However, God and His sources of joy are here, too. We just have to look for Him. And them.

Joy is intentional.

Joy is found in the little things. A hug. Laughter. Lunch with a friend. A walk in nature. Unhurried time with God. Serving someone in need (and not because we “have to”).  Ice cream on a hot day. Gratitude. Smiles. Kindness. The list of ways we find joy is endless.

And, joy is found in the big things–the biggest thing, actually–Jesus. Don’t dismiss this as some religious cliché. “In your presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11)

Today, I took charge of my joy.


I looked at what I had and I asked, “What can I add?” Had and add. Easy enough.

For instance, I noticed simple gifts that are already mine (sunshine, family, God’s Word, God’s presence, trees in my yard) and told God, “Thank you.” I noticed, I named, and I gave thanks. Then, I added a few simple gifts I always enjoy (frozen yogurt after I finished grocery shopping and later, a happy movie that made me laugh.)

God wants His children to experience His joy. Joy is our strength and it’s our safeguard.

To help us cultivate joy, I’m giving away a copy of “Growing A Joyful Heart” to one lucky winner. All you need to do to be entered to win is either: 1) leave a comment on how you cultivate joy in the comment section OR 2) leave a review on the “That’s Just What I Needed” Podcast OR 3) Do both!



Find the “That’s Just What I Needed” podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and all your favorite podcast platforms. 

(If you’ve never listened to a podcast, it’s easy-peasy! Here’s how; If you have an iPhone, your podcast app is already on your phone. Find the app, type in “That’s Just What I Needed” and you’re there!)

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win “Growing a Joyful Heart.”

P.S. I’d LOVE to connect with you on Instagram @donnaajones or Facebook at Donna Jones, Speaker & Author.


More than a Bible teacher, Donna is a self-described Bible explainer. A colorful storyteller who combines Biblical truth with real-life anecdotes, her messages not only help listeners understand God’s Word, but most important, grasp how to live it out in real life.


  • Gaylyn Mott says:

    Years ago when we were going through a big move and change in everything familiar, I found a mini journal entitled “Rejoice”. There wasn’t much space on each line for more than a small phrase, but I made a commitment to write down a list each night before bed. This simple act helped me focus more on what God was doing in my life and helped move from depression and loneliness to a joyful attitude. Now I give away mini journals to women who are experiencing negative emotions.

  • Sondra Billing says:

    I cultivate joy by appreciating small moments. I love it when I’m just sitting around with my son and daughter just talking about anything and everything,

    • donnajones says:

      I couldn’t agree more! Small things–especially talking with our kids–priceless! 🙂

  • Pam says:

    I had many of the same annoyances…projects started and not making progress, a health issue, and having a pity party. I looked at the sad mess I had become and said enough is enough. I was able to change my reactions and choices. My reward was things started happening…🙃…maybe God was waiting on me. I will continue to choose joy each morning and hope you have a wonderful trip to Isreal!

  • Wanda says:

    Every time I get an email from you, I find joy.
    When I need to find more joy, I find some good southern gospel music.
    Keep up your great work of getting people closer to our Savior.
    God bless you.

  • Lisa Clausen says:

    I cultivate Joy by spending time with my granddaughters and maybe bringing in a little something special or doing something fun with them.


    I raise a hallelujah in the midst of life… good or bad as I feel Praise is a key factor to unlocking our prayers, it also is a form of gratitude, so I say PRAISE ON always no matter the circumstances and ALWAYS find JOY in your Journey ♥️


    I raise a Hallelujah …PRAISE always in the good and bad, I feel it’s a form of gratitude and I feel it’s the KEY to unlocking your prayer… always find JOY in your journey… PRAISE ON♥️