Smart Strategies To Satisfy Your Hunger And Thirst For Joy

Smart Strategies To Satisfy Your Hunger And Thirst For Joy

SmartCounseling2020-02-26T10:03:53+00:00February 25th, 2020|Lifestyle & Wellness, Recovery, Smart Tip 101|

By Brian Edwards MA, LCSW

The Importance of Finding Balance

We eat and drink every day. Our bodies need food and water to function, to survive, and to thrive. Taking care of our physical health is about balance — the right foods without overeating, and the right liquids without overindulging, and that darned exercise. Carbs and sugar often yell my name and draw me in to consume what I don’t need rather than what I most need. And lethargy is often my worst enemy, allowing my girth to widen and my body to slow.

The same principle applies to our emotional well-being and our relationships. We hunger for connectedness. We thirst for relationships. We hunger for love and affirmation and acceptance. We thirst for success, positive feelings and accomplishments. But just as we may eat foods that damage us and raise our blood pressure or increase our cholesterol levels, or foods that take us a step closer to problems like diabetes, we too often eat the figurative foods that limit us, increase our anxiety, deepen our depression or perpetuate unhealthy dynamics that worsen our relationships. And all this without realizing what we are doing to ourselves. We thirst for the sugars of carbonated relationships rather than the pure water that emotionally hydrates us best. We hunger for the chips and cookies of “happiness” rather than the healthy food of JOY.

Pure water and healthy foods serve us best and prepare us for the long haul. Emotional health is every bit as important as our physical health.

The Impact of Increasing Joy

When we are happy with ourselves, we make a better partner to the ones we love.
And we increase our joy.
When we recognize our faults, we can begin to modify and change them.
And we increase our joy.
When we understand our weaknesses,
we make better mothers and fathers to our children.
And we increase our joy.
When we are aware of how we limit ourselves,
we can break through self-imposed barriers.
And we increase our joy.
When we discover how our own negative thoughts constrain us, we can challenge them and embrace positivity. And thus increase our joy.

Henry Nouwen, a famous spiritual author, wrote the following:

Joy does not simply happen to us. We need to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

The Right Choices

Joy is a choice! Emotional health is a choice, but much easier said than achieved, no doubt. We choose the foods we put in our mouths. We choose the drinks we swallow. And so we must choose to satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst with healthy and reciprocal love, positive self-confidence, strength of character, generosity of spirit — all things that lead to JOY. These are not always easy to achieve. We can’t just will our relationship problems or depression or anxiety or family conflicts away. But making the conscious choice to approach them differently can make all the difference.

Here are some alternative “foods” for thought:

Have an End Goal in Mind

When confronted with an overwhelming problem, approach it by having an end goal in mind. Then work incrementally rather than trying to accomplish the goal all at once. If the end goal is to eat an entire giraffe, then the incremental steps must include eating the giraffe one small bite at a time. Swallowing the giraffe whole isn’t an option. Change all at one time will likely leave us overwhelmed and discouraged and incline us to give up. So approach end goals through small bites so that the consumption of the entire giraffe actually gets accomplished.

Identify Patterns of Unsuccessful Behaviors

Identify patterns of unsuccessful behaviors. If it hasn’t worked yet, it’s probably not going to. The same solutions that don’t work, even if tried over and over again, leave us feeling frustrated. However, a similar solution approached from a different angle will more likely bring about the change we desire. The cliche that “two heads are better than one” has truth in it. New ideas come from consulting others, your partner, a friend, a counselor, etc. It’s a solid sign of strength and wisdom to reach out beyond ourselves.

Realize What is Good and Healthy About You

Believe in yourself! Your family of origin may have had terribly poor communication. And even in the best of circumstances no family is perfect. We all have our faults, and those faults are most comfortably and visibly demonstrated in the family. Don’t accept the judgment of others as definitive, even if it came from a mother or a father. Through your own efforts, identify those qualities that are good and healthy about you. It’s important to find the

Good and the successful in ourselves. Ideally our families build us up. But unfortunately that is not always the case. Engage others who are trustworthy in the very important endeavor of discovering the good that is in you and the good that is you.

Reframe Failure

Failure IS an option. What? Yes. Failure is an option. If we try something new and it doesn’t work, then real progress has still been made. But how? By the fact that we are actively breaking patterns which have not served us or bettered us. Not everything will work, but finding what DOES work requires the willingness to make mistakes and a commitment to practice and take risks. My favorite foods are foods I never would have touched when I was young. I thought they tasted funny or weird or just plain bad. Now many of those same foods are my favorites because I gave them more than one chance — indeed a real chance, and came to prefer them over all the others.

Understand That Change is a Process But Worth It!

Change is difficult. Change is uncomfortable. And change involves fear of the unknown. We don’t know how things will turn out, so we avoid change and stay “stuck”. We are too often comfortable in our discomfort, but we only have this one life given to us by the Creator. And this one life is the sum total of our existence in this world. Change is the key to discovering joy in life.

Hunger and thirst for joy and settle for nothing less.

If you are ready to make some positive changes in your life, a licensed therapist can help on your journey to greater joy. Brian (the author) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the state of Tennessee with more than 25 years of experience working in both inpatient and outpatient clinical settings, as well as pastoral care and counseling to faculty, students and their families in a high school setting. Brian is warm, interactive, and treats his clients with respect, sensitivity, and compassion. If you live in Tennessee, you can connect with Brian online at He offers affordable, convenient live video, audio, chat sessions, as well as messaging therapy in a private HIPAA-secure session room online. Hassle-free and effective online counseling! Reach out to Brian today!

Or, if you live outside Tennessee, visit and connect with an online licensed therapist today who can help you on your journey.