Leading Authority in Treatment of Narcissism and Emotional Abuse

Joy in Difficult Circumstances

How to Find Joy in Difficult Circumstances

There’s an expectation around the holidays that all is merry and bright. But the reality is, for people experiencing emotional abuse it’s anything but. In fact, toxic family dynamics are usually amplified during this time. If you are in this situation, Dr. Hawkins gives you 3 things to consider that can help you find joy in  difficult circumstances.

How to Find Joy in Difficult Circumstances

The holiday season often carries with it the expectation of joy and merriment. However, not everyone finds themselves brimming with holiday cheer. In a world filled with complexities and challenges, it can be difficult to feel merry and holly. Dr. David Hawkins, an expert from the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute, believes that even in the midst of difficult relationships and circumstances, joy can be found and embraced. In this article, we will explore practical steps to find joy in challenging times.

Recognize Joy as an Inside Job

Finding and embracing joy starts with the understanding that it’s an inside job. It’s something you must actively cultivate for yourself. Regardless of the difficulties in your life, take responsibility for your happiness. Dr. Hawkins stresses the importance of acknowledging that you have the power to find and experience joy.

In challenging situations, whether it’s an emotionally abusive relationship or other hardships, this shift in perspective is crucial. By recognizing that you can create moments of joy even amidst difficulties, you regain control over your emotional well-being.

When you accept that joy is your responsibility, you open the door to a world of possibilities. No matter how challenging your circumstances may be, there are ways to infuse your life with moments of happiness. It’s a mindset shift that can be incredibly empowering.

Identify Joyful Sources

To find and embrace joy, pinpoint the places, people, and situations that genuinely bring you happiness. Ask yourself:

  • Who are the individuals you enjoy spending time with?
  • What activities or circumstances make you feel truly content?
  • Are there specific locations that bring you peace and joy?
  • Do you have hobbies or interests that ignite your enthusiasm?
  • Can simple, everyday activities uplift your spirits?

Keeping a journal to answer these questions can provide clarity on the sources of joy in your life. Once you’ve identified them, make a deliberate effort to incorporate them into your daily routine or schedule them regularly.

Consider the people in your life who uplift you. Spending time with loved ones who bring positivity and support can be a powerful source of joy. Engage in activities that resonate with your soul. Whether it’s hiking in nature, painting, reading, or even just enjoying a hot cup of tea, these simple pleasures can be the gateway to joy.

Minimize Joy-Stealers

In addition to identifying sources of joy, it’s essential to recognize and address factors that diminish your happiness. Dr. Hawkins suggests becoming aware of situations, individuals, or conflicts that make you feel tense, irritable, or conflicted. These are the joy-stealers in your life.

Once you’ve pinpointed these joy-stealers, take steps to reduce their impact. This may involve setting boundaries, seeking healthier relationships, or developing strategies to navigate conflicts without becoming emotionally entangled. By minimizing the presence of joy-stealing elements, you create space for more joy in your life.

Avoiding conflicts and negative situations doesn’t mean ignoring them. It means choosing how you engage with them and how much power you give them over your emotional state. By addressing these issues proactively, you can protect your inner peace and maintain a positive outlook.

Cultivate Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool for finding and embracing joy. Take time each day to reflect on the things you’re thankful for. Even in the most challenging circumstances, there are often moments of grace and beauty that can be appreciated.

Maintaining a gratitude journal is a practical way to incorporate this into your daily routine. Write down three things you’re grateful for each day. Over time, this practice can shift your focus toward the positive aspects of life, making joy more accessible.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is not selfish; it’s essential for finding and embracing joy. Take time to nurture your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This might involve:

  • Regular exercise to release endorphins and reduce stress.
  • Meditation or mindfulness practices to stay present and calm.
  • Pursuing hobbies or interests that bring you happiness and relaxation.
  • Seeking professional help or support if you’re dealing with emotional challenges.

Investing in self-care is an investment in your joy. When you prioritize your well-being, you create a foundation for a more joyful and resilient life.

6. Share Joy with Others

Sometimes, the most potent joy comes from sharing it with others. Acts of kindness and generosity not only brighten someone else’s day but also boost your own happiness. Engage in random acts of kindness, volunteer for a cause you care about, or simply spend quality time with friends and family.

The act of giving can be a profound source of joy. It reminds you of your ability to make a positive impact on the world and reinforces the connection between joy and selflessness.


Finding and embracing joy in difficult circumstances is a journey that starts with self-awareness and personal responsibility. Understanding that joy is an inside job, identifying what brings you joy, and minimizing joy-stealing factors are crucial steps to creating a more joyful and fulfilling life, even when faced with challenging situations or relationships.

Keep in mind that joy can be discovered in small, simple moments, and you have the power to enhance and expand these moments in your world. Whether it’s during the holiday season or in the midst of adversity, prioritize your happiness and affirm, “There’s joy in my world.”

By taking these steps and making joy a priority in your life, you can find and embrace happiness even in the most challenging of circumstances. Joy is not something that exists solely in the external world; it’s a treasure you can cultivate within yourself, nourishing your spirit and brightening your journey through life.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: How an Accountability Partner Can Help You Transform!

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.



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