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The Ultimate Guide to Find Joy in the Journey

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All Scripture references come from the King James Version of the Holy Bible (KJV)."

What does it mean to find joy in the journey?

Would you consider yourself joyful? Would you like to be?  Doesn’t it seem like there is just not enough happiness or joy in the world today? That’s just not acceptable, is it?  Welcome to the ultimate guide to finding joy in the journey.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Right?

In this ultimate guide, we’ll dig into the Bible to see what God says about joy. And then we’ll discover tons of ways for finding joy in the ordinary as well as ways to find joy in the journey. There’s absolutely no reason that we should be miserable in this life we lead. Yet most of us are. We’re so focused on the end goal, that we forget to stop and smell the roses along the way. It’s time we slowed down a bit. Don’t you agree? So let’s get started.

What is the difference between happiness and joy?

Many people wonder if there even is a difference between the two.  Let’s look at the definitions.  Dictionary.com defines happiness as “the quality or state of being happy; good fortune; pleasure, contentment;  joy.”  I believe in this definition, the operative word is “state.”  I looked up the definition of state and found, “the condition of a person or thing, as with respect to circumstances.”  In other words happiness is temporary and conditional.


Joy, on the other hand, is defined as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.”  If you are a child of God, that “something that is exceptionally good” comes from the Lord. Joy is part of who you are. Your joy doesn’t leave you when a negative event happens, like someone cutting you off in traffic or having a bad day.

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I believe that there is a very real difference between happiness and joy. Joy is a belief from the heart that comes from the Lord. It’s an internal emotion that doesn’t change regardless of what’s happening on any given day.  Happiness, on the other hand, is a surface-level emotion that’s based on external factors.  

For instance, you might think that finding true happiness might come from getting a raise at work, or a new puppy. But our happiness can change. For instance, if your lovable little puppy bites you or tinkles on the carpet. That might alter your mood a bit. I am a firm believer that you can choose to be happy, if you want to. Then again, I suppose you might choose not to be happy as well.

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What does the Bible say about seeking happiness?

In the KJV Bible, the word “joy” is mentioned 155 times.  The following Scriptures show how joy comes from the Lord. When you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you are filled with the Holy Spirit, and you become safe from eternal damnation.   This is where joy comes from. 

Let’s look at the Fruit of the Spirit. It’s called a fruit because it’s a product of the tree it grows from. Jesus is the Vine, and we are the branches. There’s only one fruit but there are nine traits of someone who follows Jesus in their life. Each trait reflects how the Holy Spirit is working in our lives. Joy is the second trait.  It’s not something we choose to do. It’s a by-product of following Jesus. 

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

What does it mean to find joy in the little things?

We know that joy is an integral part of a Christian’s life. So what does it mean to find joy in the little things? Thinking back to our quote, that “Life is a journey, not a destination,” the main message I get from that, is that we need to slooooow down. Take life in.

Literally, we need to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy those first sips of morning coffee. Linger in the intimacy you enjoy with your spouse and the hugs from your babies, regardless of how old they are. When was the last time you snuggled with your husband on the couch while watching a movie?

I don’t know about you. But even TV watching has gotten mechanical. We grab our dinner, turn on the tube and do almost the same thing every night. We need more spontaneity.  

Some ideas for finding joy in the little things, might be tucking a note in your husband or child’s lunch box. Having dinner on a blanket in the yard. Shake things up a notch and break the routine that’s wearing the traffic pattern in your carpet. That’s what it means to find joy in the little things.

Where can I find joy in little things?

If you think about it, this is actually an easy question. If you are a child of God, that means that you have been saved by grace through faith. You have ever so much to be thankful for. You are a child of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ.  If you’re looking at finding happiness in the little things, this is a great place to start. 

Do you remember what David prayed after the prophet Nathan confronted him after he had been with Bathsheba?  David blew it! He sinned against God and he knew it. I encourage you to read all of Psalm 51, but look at this verse:

Psalm 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Any time you fall away from the Lord, whether you consider it to be a major sin or a small one (hint: in God’s eyes they’re all the same,) repentance brings you back to square one. That is a huge cause for rejoicing. 

As I mentioned in the last section, finding joy in the little things is possible if only you pay attention. Here are some examples: 

  • A sunrise that unexpectedly shows up in the most beautiful colors 
  • A sale on your favorite grocery items
  • An unexpected check in the mail
  • A phone call from one of your kids
  • Finding $5 in the laundry (or even a quarter, because for me, any amount brings a smile.)
  • That smile you see when hubby walks through the door after a long day at work
  • The love of your pet
  • A gentle breeze on a hot day
  • Listening to the birds singing
  • I could go on and on….

7 Ways to find joy in the journey

There are many ways of finding joy in the ordinary. But I have found that there are some main umbrellas under which you can find happiness in small things.  Let’s start with the list. Then we’ll break them down.

  1. Remember our goal is to seek ye first the kingdom of God
  2. Slow down
  3. Stay positive
  4. Count your blessings
  5. Remember that Garbage in = Garbage out
  6. . Finding joy in simple things
  7. Stop waiting for things to bring you joy

Remember our goal is to seek ye first the Kingdom of God

If you’ve been saved by the grace of God, you’ve got eternal security.   I can’t think of a better place to start where we can find joy in the Lord.  Eternal security means spending eternity with Jesus. I definitely prefer that over the alternative,  don’t you? I mean, we’re talking forever here. If you need some guidance, here are the basics for growing your faith in God.

Joy can be found by serving God, following Him, spending time in close communion with Him in prayer. As we look back on answered prayers, we can be reminded of how often and how great God works in our lives. This is why I’m a huge proponent of keeping a gratitude list or gratitude journal. It gives us a place to record those blessings. 

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Joy can also be found by delighting in the Word of God. Scripture tells us of God’s goodness. So it’s proper for us to rejoice in Him. We don’t just rejoice for what He’s given us, but for who He is. We give thanks and praise His holy name. 

And by staying in His will, He bestows wisdom, knowledge and joy upon us. Our study of and closeness with the Lord keeps us finding joy in the Lord, throughout our whole journey of life.

Psalm 119:111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.

Psalm 97:11-12 Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Ecclesiastes 2:26a For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy:

Slow down

We often find ourselves saying yes to so many good things. We become distracted and along the way, we lose our joy in the process. Remember, it’s about how to find joy in the journey, not just getting to the destination.

It’s possible to be busy doing good things all in the name of Jesus, but without actually being with Him. Remember don’t choose your to-do list over sitting at Jesus’ feet. Remember the story of Mary and Martha?  Martha chose the busy work, while Mary sat at Jesus’s feet.

Yes, we all have things that need to be done. But if we lose track of our priorities, we could miss out on finding joy in simple things. Remember simple and necessary things consist of Jesus, family, and other important things, so slow down and stay focused.

John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Stay positive

Another critical factor of joy is positivity.  As a survivor of flesh-eating bacteria and quadruple amputations, part of my recovery was keeping a positive mindset.  I have never approached my life, seeking joy in the journey from a pessimistic perspective.  I wonder, is it even possible? 

Finding happiness in the little things starts with waking up daily, thankful for all the blessings from God. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to wake up with a smile on my face. As a mom, our kids learn from us. They learn from what we say, but also from our actions. 

I always wanted to teach my kids to find joy in the journey. I would never be able to do that with a negative heart and a woe-is-me attitude. Life without hands and feet is hard enough. But if I lived in a constant pity party, what would that teach them? It is certainly not an acceptable lesson from a child of God. 

redhead smiling joyfully with hat, Find Joy in the Journey

Count your blessings

We’ve already talked about being thankful. So that’s why it’s one of my top tips for finding joy in the journey. I believe that you can find a silver lining in every dark cloud. You just have to look for it. 

If we pay attention, we can see many reminders of God’s grace in our everyday life. By looking at some of our negative experiences in life from a spiritual viewpoint, we can certainly see that God can use all of our trials and hardships for His glory as well as for our good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I don’t need to count your blessings to give you some ideas of finding joy in simple things. But I can give you some ideas of things that would go in my own blessings jar just from the past day or two.

  • My morning coffee  
  • Video chats with our kids
  • Glasses for better vision
  • Answered prayers 
  • Being able to boldly go before the throne of grace, seeking sweet fellowship with Jesus 
  • Great friendship and fellowship with our church family
  • The privilege of buying groceries
  • The love and support of my husband, kids and church family
  • A great sermon and Sunday School class
  • A big, fat ice cream cone
  • A beautiful sunny day
  • A quick nap on a busy day
  • Being able to work from home
  • Flowers blooming
  • Crops from our vegetable garden
  • The blessing of falling asleep after a couple of hours of phantom pain
  • My husband’s willingness to attend to my pain several times during the night, even though he had a 4am wake up alarm for work

That’s a quick list I put together in less than 10 minutes. But I want to draw your attention to the last two items in my list. As an amputee, I suffer from something called phantom pain every so often. Briefly, it’s nerve pain that exists in the amputated limbs. In my case, it feels like my missing feet still exist.

My point, however, is that when hardships hit, look for the blessing. That activity will help you find joy. Yes, pain hurts. And phantom pain is like a hammer beating on my feet. But be thankful for your trials.  They help you grow spiritually, which is important.

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

If you've been saved by the grace of God, you've got eternal security.   I can’t think of a better place to start where we can find joy in the Lord. #findingjoyinthejourney #joyfulliving #joywithJesus Click To Tweet

Remember Garbage in = Garbage out

Have you heard this adage? It basically means that what you put into your heart and mind, will be reflected in your words and actions. In other words, you are what you spend your time on, who you spend time with, the activities you participate in and the words you use.

The following Scriptures explain further, in the words of Jesus. Be careful what you do, because it creates habits that take you away from God and could ruin your witness for Jesus to others.

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Let me give you some examples about how garbage in equals garbage out which prevents you from finding joy in the ordinary:

  • Spending time with worldly people results in doing worldly activities 
  • Spending time with Godly people results in doing Godly activities 
  • Watching R rated shows results in language and activities that Jesus would not condone and neither should you
  • Finding joy in the Lord by reading your Bible has a far different outcome than reading books about death and trauma

These are just a couple of examples. Instead, aim for Quality In equals Quality out. Not only will it create a more joyful life, but it will result in a more positive relationship with Jesus.

Matthew 6:21-23 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Finding joy in simple things

There are so many things in life that will help you find happiness in the little things, once you have joy in the Lord.  Remember that salvation and safety from eternal damnation is the foundation of joy. It’s a joy that lives deep in your soul.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? We all know people who exude the hope, love and joy of Jesus.  In fact the Apostle Peter tells us that we should have a reason for people to ask us what it is that gives us hope. That means we must show it. With joy in our hearts, hope shows up.

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

So how do we find joy in the little things? Stop and experience them. Put the cell phones and technology away. When you and your spouse are alone, are you both on your phones, texting, checking emails or scrolling through Facebook?  Or are you enjoying each other’s company, paying attention to the conversation and appreciating the time you’re together?

When your kids are playing, asking you to “look at me, Mommy,” are you really looking? Or is it an annoyance because they’ve asked for the millionth time? It’s so easy to not pay attention and assume that whatever you’re doing is more important at the time. I assure you that it’s not.

Because you will blink and they’ll be in their 20s. They won’t bother calling, because they think that you won’t care about what’s important to them. Why? Because they learned that truth when they were younger.

So please listen. Don’t waste this time. Enjoy the little things. Find joy in the journey.  Because, it’s never about making more money or getting a better job. It’s about finding joy in the little things.

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Stop waiting for things to bring you joy

It’s never too late to experience joy. Start today, right now. It’s up to you to create a joyful life. Seek ye first the kingdom of God.  Then learn how to get closer to God. Let the joy of Jesus show through you.  Every day is an opportunity to refresh your joy in the Lord.  

The whole goal of this website is to help you rediscover God’s joy and peace amid the trials of your life. So, what can you do today or even right now to remind you of that joy?  This scripture and the Bible verses below should give you some ideas, as well as what the Lord thinks about the importance of joy in the journey.

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Bible verses about joy and contentment

The Holy Bible is full of ways and ideas that guide you in your quest for finding joy in the journey. Jesus came to give us an abundant life and to guide us in the path in which to get it. Don’t be mistaken though. Jesus brings that abundance to our eternal life, not necessarily in this hard and difficult world we live in now. Below are some of my favorite Bible verses about joy and contentment. Plus, click for even more Bible verses about happiness and joy.

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

John 16:22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Psalm 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Why should we find happiness in small things?

So what can we do to continue to find joy in the journey?  We start by living life with intention. We start by living our lives according to God’s purpose, not ours.  Living intentionally means that you are being intentional about your choices. You are making the conscious choice to do more of what’s important and less of what is not.

It’s so important that we seek God’s purpose in the everyday, ordinary things of life. Because when we seek to find the joy in the journey, and our lives are focused on living for God, extraordinary things will begin to happen.  If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to leave your favorite tips below. Then grab one of our freebies to become part of our One Exceptional Life family.

What are the little things in life that make you happy?

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