Can I Find Joy Despite My Circumstances? With Shaunti Feldhahn [Episode 133]

Did you know my maiden name is Jolly? So, I often joke that I get joy honestly!

Applying Philippians 4:8 is how you can live grateful. Think about what is good, lovely, and true. [Click to Tweet]

And, we all want joy, right? Well, Jesus says He came to bring good news of great joy for all people! It’s a promise for you and me no matter what our circumstances are! But how do we get there?

Social researcher and best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn is here to show us how. In today’s episode, you’ll learn eight very practical ways to find joy. These are truths that shine out from both science and Scripture.

If you don’t already know Shaunti, her findings have been featured in media as diverse as Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, the New York Times, and Cosmo. With a master’s degree from Harvard, she has worked on Wall Street and Capitol Hill. Now she applies her analytical skills to equipping all of us with truth to enhance our lives and relationships. She and her husband, Jeff, live in Atlanta with their two kids.

Friend, this is so much more than learning to adopt happy thoughts. These are proven choices you can make that will increase your joy no matter what you’re facing!

Jennifer’s Highlights and Take-Aways

These are some of the nuggets I’m holding on to from Shaunti. You will love the whole conversation, so check out the transcript too.

6 Ways to Experience Joy

Shaunti opened our conversation with the fact that joy is possible no matter what we’re dealing with. She shared six ways research has proven that we can experience joy.

  1. Purposefully live in awe of God. Part of most twelve-step addiction recovery models include acknowledging that there is something bigger than you—a higher power. When we pay attention to the wonder and awe of God, it reduces our stress, increases our joy, and gives us a right perspective of who God is, who we are, and it right sizes our problems.
  2. We undermine the joyful mindset God gives us when we express discontent. [Click to Tweet]
  3. Practice gratitude. “Have an attitude of gratitude” is easy to say but easy to not do. Applying Philippians 4:8 is how you can live grateful. Think about what is good, lovely, and true.
  4. Remember what God has done in the past. Research shows that areas of our brains that trigger confidence and joy are activated when we remember.

    Shaunti referred to the Israelites wandering and finally crossing into the Promised Land. They stepped into the water, crossed over, and God told them to take stones from the middle of the river and pile them up on the other side. That way, when they faced giants and life was hard, they could look at the rocks and have a boost of confidence and joy, knowing God always comes through.

    We need our own pile of rocks to help us remember. I mention listening to audio pictures to help me remember and find joy. So, check out the end of this episode to hear a sample of one I gave you.

    Shaunti writes it down to remember. She uses a prayer journal to record what God has done. She looks back, and it helps her remember the faithfulness of God.

  5. Trust and step out with confidence. Science has proven that one thing that steals our joy is not having our expectations met. So one key to joy is to shift our expectations.

    Expect that God asks you to trust Him in every step. And expect that He will provide what you need for every step. Shaunti says that we are called to recognize that God asks us to trust Him with a little at a time. God has designed the process of faith to lead us into confident trust.

  6. Ask for and offer forgiveness. We are bound up without a sense of joy and bound by bitterness when we don’t forgive. When we ask for forgiveness, it clears up relational tension, which brings back our joy.
  7. Focus on how to meet the needs of somebody else. God created us to reach out to others and help them. When we do, it helps our mindset and opens our perspective. Giving to others becomes fertile ground for finding joy. Being kind or having a mindset of kindness brings joy.

How to Sabotage Joy

If those six ways were about finding joy, my last question was about losing it. So I asked: How do we sabotage joy?

Shaunti says that the biggest way to lose joy is to express discontent. “We undermine the joyful mindset God gives us,” she explained, “when we express discontent.”

When we complain, we lose joy. The Scripture passages that tell us not to grumble or complain are not just there so we’ll have good behavior or a good testimony. God tells us not to grumble and complain because it’s not good for our mental health.

Shaunti found overwhelming research that confirms that venting is not actually healthy. When you express discontent, either verbally or with a tone of voice or facial expression, or even a quick social media post, you are actually activating your anger system in your brain. You may think you are just venting steam, but you are actually turning up the heat.

To find joy, the goal is to refuse to vent. Instead, think on something good—practice Philippians 4:8. When you focus on something good or lovely, it’s like taking the pot off the burner.

So, until next week, remember, no matter what your circumstances, you can choose joy because you can do all things through Christ, who gives you strength.

Related Resources

Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild

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Episode Transcript

4:13 Podcast: Can I Find Joy Despite My Circumstances? With Shaunti Feldhahn [Episode 133]

Jennifer Rothschild: Do you remember what the angel said that first Christmas? Well, I know it's spring, but this still applies. They announced good news of great joy for all people. It's a promise for us, no matter our circumstances, but how do we get there? Well, in this fascinating conversation, social researcher and bestselling author Shaunti Feldhahn focuses on eight key elements of finding joy. These are truths that shine out from both science and Scripture. This is so much more than learning to adopt happy thoughts, my friend. These are proven choices that you can make that will increase your joy no matter what you're facing. I am so pumped about this lady and this conversation and I cannot wait for you to hear it.

KC Wright: Welcome to the 413 Podcast, where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you up to live the "I Can" life because you can do all things through Christ, who gives you strength. Now, welcome your host, a woman who's definitely got the joy going on: Jennifer Rothschild.

Jennifer Rothschild: And so does my co-host, my seeing-eye guy. That was KC and I'm Jennifer here to help you be and do more than you even feel capable of as you live the "I Can" life of Philippians 4:13. The truth of Scripture applies to you, my friend. You can do all things not through your drive, not through your personality, not through anything except Christ's power in you. So tap in and trust that power today. I got to tell you, though, KC, obviously I get joy honestly, because my maiden name was Jolly.

KC Wright: I love that.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know. And you've got the joy going on to, my brother.

KC Wright: Well, my ten-year-old little girl, Elliana Joy. Right. Her middle name's, Joy. So, she's the joy of my life. She's a little stand-up comedian, let me tell you.

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, we're going to get right to this conversation because joy may not come easy for you. You may not have someone named Joy in your household or your maiden name may not be Jolly. But I'm telling you, this conversation with Shaunti today, you're going to learn eight very practical ways that science and Scripture both affirm that will help you choose joy. Now, you're going to hear eight things. So I know some of you are already pulling out your pen or getting ready to take notes on your phone. You don't need to worry about that because we got you covered in the show notes. All right. So when you're done, just go to

KC Wright: Well, let's introduce Shaunti. She's a speaker, author and social researcher. Her findings have been featured in media as Diverse as Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, The New York Times and Cosmo. With a master's degree from Harvard, Shaunti has worked on Wall Street and Capitol Hill. Now she applies her analytical skills to equipping all of us with truth to enhance our lives and relationships.

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, my friend Shaunti, I'm so happy that you are with us because I love the work that you do. I love the angle from which you approach everything because you're a researcher. And I think it's so refreshing and so I have got to start with this question, okay? We've been living in Crazyville since the pandemic hit. Okay, Crazyville. I don't need to explain that to anyone who's hearing it. It's just going on and on and on, no matter when it began, it just doesn't seem like it's ever ending. So here's the question: is it really even possible to feel positive when these are daily realities?

Shaunti Feldhahn: You know, we all have PTSD, right?

Jennifer Rothschild: Big time. Yes.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Yeah, and the reality is, yes, it is not only possible, it is expected by our Heavenly Father that we are supposed to be able to find joy and peace and hope and the sense of abundance that He has for us, regardless of what is going on around us, because that is what actual sort of the biblical definition of joy actually is. Otherwise, you're talking about sort of happiness. Something makes you happy. Right. And that's fine. But that's not the sort of unwavering, regardless of circumstances joy, that God wants us to have.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, and He does give it to us. You're right, but sometimes we have to anticipate it, cooperate with it, choose it, etc.. And so that's why I'm pretty pumped about the premise of your book, because you have found eight elements, and I know we're not going to have time to go through all of them, but you have found eight elements based on science and Scripture that that help us experience this joy. So I want to go through some of them. Maybe we can hit four or five, but let's just kind of see where where we head with this. And before you share with them, tell me how you did this research. I mean, I don't need the whole scientific method kind of thing, but just how did you figure this stuff out?

Shaunti Feldhahn: Yeah, it's interesting because, you know, being a social researcher, I really wanted to find out what is it that sort of neuroscience, neurobiology, some of our own studies that we've done with people and relationships and mindsets and all that kind of stuff, and I really wanted to see what is it that's a common denominator for finding joy. And it's so fascinating, Jennifer, because it is awesome when hard-core science, huh, it backs up what Scripture has said all along. Imagine that.

Jennifer Rothschild: Go figure.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Yeah, go figure. And so, yeah, that's what we did, is essentially looking at all the all the research out there, including our own, and getting a sense for these: What are the key threats? What are the key factors that we tend to miss that will make a big difference?

Jennifer Rothschild: I love it. Okay, then let's hit it. Give me one.

Shaunti Feldhahn: So, the first one, actually, and this is obviously the sort of the foundation of it is we have to purposely live in awe of God. And it's fascinating when you see the science that has been done behind even the most secular-like recovery programs. For example, they have acknowledged that somebody who's going through a difficult time with addiction, whether it's alcohol or drugs or porn or whatever it is, that part of the twelve-step model is, huh, you have to actually recognize that there's somebody beyond yourself

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, bigger.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And you have to lean and depend on, you know, obviously, they call it a higher power.

Jennifer Rothschild: Sure.

Shaunti Feldhahn: But that's one of the factors they have found without which those programs don't work, and the reason from a biblical perspective, from our perspective, perspectives as followers of Jesus, is that if you step outside and you look at this vast sea of stars above your head and you go, oh, my goodness, God holds all this together by a word of His power, is there anything that is too big for Him? And it helps you take all those burdens off of your shoulders and put them on His. And that's really a prerequisite for being able to find joy, regardless of what those things are.

Jennifer Rothschild: Right. Right. I love it, and you know what it does for me, too, is it right sizes me. When I really am able to have a right perspective of God and be in awe of Him, suddenly, it's okay for me to be small. It's okay for me not to have to be in charge of the entire world. It kind of resets my sense of context and that that makes a difference.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Wow. I love that way of putting it.

Jennifer Rothschild: All right, what's your second one?

Shaunti Feldhahn: So the second one is one of the most practical day-to-day answers for finding joy regardless, and that is to practice gratitude. It's really interesting because we all know that that is crucial. I mean, many of us, you know, we tell our kids have an attitude of gratitude. Right?

Jennifer Rothschild: Right.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And yet we don't always look like that ourselves, and it it is one of those things it's easy to say and also easy to miss and slip up on in practice. And so here's one of the things that we've seen, again, both in the neuroscience and in the Scripture about how to do that.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And one, and I'll give you an example, because one of the things that can really steal our joy is like relationship turmoil. You know, I mean, for me as a woman, I know probably many of your listeners out there are like this, if things are going difficult in your marriage or with your kids or with a friend, it's like nothing is right with the world until that relationship is resolved. That can really steal our joy. And there's a situation like that in the Bible where the apostle Paul is talking to the church in Phillipi, and if you look at chapter four, he actually starts it with this exact kind of example, because there's two women in the church who are like pillars of the church that didn't get along. Like, I don't know, this is the, this is the children's ministry director and the women's group director. Like, I don't know who these women were, but they were having a personality conflict. And it's really interesting to see how he says to address that, because he's telling them to get along. And the church: help these women get along. And his prescription is first, rejoice, find joy, rejoice. And it's easy to go but what does it have to do with that? And, oh, by the way, how do you rejoice when, like Paul, you're in a prison, you're chained to a wall, how do you rejoice in a prison or a difficult marriage or when you're not getting along with your colleague or whatever? And the prescription comes in Philippians 4:8 where he says, okay, here's how you do it: you think on whatever is lovely, you think on whatever is excellent and worthy of praise rather than what's worthy of driving you crazy.

Jennifer Rothschild: Mmm.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And that is something that we so often miss.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Listen my year, like yours, this past year there's been a lot that has driven me crazy, right? Like all my speaking engagements were canceled. I know, you know, the feeling. Events canceled, all these things. How are we going to pay the mortgage and pay the staff and all these questions, but you know what? There is so much to be grateful for, to think on that's lovely. Just last weekend, I was sitting down around a fire pit outside in somebody's backyard talking, catching up, roasting s'mores on a Saturday night. Like, would I ever...

Jennifer Rothschild: No, you wouldn't have been home?

Shaunti Feldhahn: I wouldn't even have been home. I would have been on the road at a women's ministry event somewhere.

Jennifer Rothschild: Right.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And that was so precious, like, yeah, I want to get back to having women's ministry events, but wow, what a thing to be grateful for. So we just have to be purposeful.

Jennifer Rothschild: And that, you know, it's interesting that, Shaunti, you said we know this, but it's funny I know this, I don't do it all the time and I will catch myself in the middle of being absolutely grumpy. You know, you only see what you allow yourself to see. And I will catch myself and think it's so interesting that I know these things, but I'm quicker to tell somebody than I am to do it myself sometimes. So this is a really good reminder. And I love that you're right. It is both science and Scripture that affirm this choice.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Yeah. And Jennifer, I've known you for a lot of years. I can't picture you being grumpy.

Jennifer Rothschild: So, I do have evidently some self-control because I only do it in private. So there you go.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Ok, there you go.

Jennifer Rothschild: Now I need grace, girl. I need grace. Okay, what's our third way?

Shaunti Feldhahn: Well, one of the other really important day-to-day things is to actually remember those things that God has done for us in the past. That can be sort of a marker of, hey, maybe He'll do it again in the future.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Shaunti Feldhahn: I was able to trust Him with this big, crazy, icky situation. You know what? He's probably trustworthy in the future. Like, I don't I don't know about you, but one of my favorite stories is the story of when the Israelites were finally called to take the Promised Land. And, you know, you've got probably millions of people who have been wandering the desert wondering when are we going to go into the Promised Land? And God says, okay, it's time. Cross the river." And they're like, and it's in flood stage with no bridge. Like what? And how do you do this? Well, they did it. They stepped into the water. It backed up, like God did this miraculous thing. They crossed over onto the far side, and God said something fascinating when He said, take those stones from the middle of the river where you crossed over on dry land. That should have been covered with water, but you walked. Pick up some of those stones and pile them up on the other side of the bank so that in the years ahead, when you're having to take the land and there's giants and there's casualties and it's hard and you start wondering, is God really in this? You can look at that pile of stones and remember what God did before and we have to do the exact same thing.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. You know, it's so timely, Shaunti, that you share that because I literally just a couple of weeks ago was in the midst of kind of this achy thing, this achy, lonely feeling, you know. Just some of the sheltering in place and the lack of gathering and even when we can gather there's such a distance and with blindness that's like a chasm, because there's no touching. I can't hardly tell where anyone is, you know. Okay, so that's the backstory. So we're sitting on the couch, Phil and I, and I needed him to find a picture for me that we wanted to post on social media. And I handed him the shoebox of old pictures and he is thumbing through them and I could tell as he's describing these pictures and he's remembering. It kind of did this little lift thing for his spirit. Well, I was sitting next to him and I was like kind of like it did the opposite for me. It kind of exacerbated even more the loneliness because I couldn't even look at the pictures to remember, but I take audio pictures. So, what I mean by that is I literally turn on my voice memo and I'll capture a moment like if I'm sitting on the deck and I hear the crickets and the wind chimes and I'll just take an audio picture of what I hear and what I'm feeling at the moment. And I've done it with my kids playing, you know, football in the backyard or my, I mean, I've just everywhere I've traveled. I have tons. So I sat on the couch and I listened to audio pictures and the same thing happened.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Ah that's so cool.

Jennifer Rothschild: It lifted my spirit. Yeah, because there's power in remembering.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: I love that. And you're right, it is so biblical. It's a beautiful illustration. Thank you.

Shaunti Feldhahn: It is biblical and it's something that like the neurobiologists have actually found that there are things that are activated in our brain when we call memories to mind the way that God has wired our brain, which please don't ask me to explain it to you. However, there are some very key triggers between memory and sort of having that sense of trust and that sense of confidence and joy.

Jennifer Rothschild: Mm. Wow. I believe it, because I just even that one example of the pictures on the couch, that was the sense that I had just a lifting and a reminder of joy. And, you know, when we remember, Shaunti, I think there might be some listening who go, well I can't do that because my life is so stinky right now. It was so much better then, and if I remember, it's just going to awaken a longing that can't be met, and I would contend that actually it informs a reality that you may just not be experiencing at the moment because God is faithful, just like He told the Israelites to pile the stones. This is a reminder that when things aren't going well, you look back and remember, God doesn't change. The faithfulness of God remains the same. That's super practical. How do you do that, by the way? How do you do that? Remembering things to help awaken joy in you?

Shaunti Feldhahn: Well, for me, it's really crucial to write it down. Honestly, it's interesting. I like your audio notes idea. I'm going to have to think about that. Seriously, because for me, I am so forgetful and it is so easy for me to get all balled up in knots, and then I look back and what I tend to do is in my prayer journal. Right. Because I'm writing up my prayers and then I'll record when something happens. Like it could be two weeks later or two years later, but I'll go, oh my gosh, this was the answer to that prayer. And then, you know, I move on to the next thing or I fill up that prayer journal and put it on the shelf and it just sits there. Well, every now and then it is really important for me to pull out those prayer journals off the shelf and page through them and go, "Oh my goodness, oh my goodness. Lord, these things that I hadn't even recorded that You did, I have been praying about." You know, our son has epilepsy. We discovered this when he was turning eleven. It was devastating for him. There were all sorts of clinical issues that made him have to learn to read again and all these things that were so hard. And now I look back through a prayer journal from five, six years ago and was grieving and crying and praying. And now the things that I was grieving, God has totally taken care of and I hadn't really given God credit.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Shaunti Feldhahn: So, that is so for me, that is so crucial to find joy.

Jennifer Rothschild: That's such a good example and that awakens your thankfulness to I mean, it's like this virtuous cycle. All right. What's another one? What's another one?

Shaunti Feldhahn: So another one that's so crucial is we've all heard we have to trust. Right? Like that's so crucial to finding joy, but we've actually seen it's more nuanced than that, that there's a sense of trust that you have that's almost trust and stepping out with confidence.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hm.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And it's a different way of thinking about it and I'll give you an example. One of the things that has spoken to me really strongly is I've been going through some of the research and trying to figure out what are the key elements to this journey for me and any women who are going through this. One of the stories that really hits me is out of Israel, actually, and there is a a feeling that many of us have when we look at a need in our lives, like the need for provision. Right. And we read something like Psalm 23 and we see, you know, He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me by still waters. He restores my soul. And it's like I don't feel like that. Like you get this image of a sheep lying down in this huge green field and a mouth, mouthfuls of provision everywhere you look. And my life of faith does not look like that.

Jennifer Rothschild: No. Right.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Right. Like it's not everything is provided in abundance all the time. And I'm like, but what about Psalm 23? I saw this video by a pastor for many years ago named Ray Vander Laan, and he was standing on a hillside in Israel. And when he he said, okay, I'm standing on this rocky hillside and you see these sheep walking along the hillside following a shepherd and they're putting their mouths down. But it's like desert, like it's just bare rock. Like, what are they? What are they eating? And I said, believe it or not, what's happening is that there is just a little bit of moisture in the wind that sometimes will swoop over hillside and these little tiny tufts of greeny kind of stuff pops up at the base of the rock. And the sheep will go for a couple of feet and they'll take a mouthful and then they'll walk another ten feet and take another mouthful and they keep going. And by the end of the hillside that the shepherd has led them on, they have gotten a full belly for the day. Well, guess what that hillside is called. That's a green pasture.

Jennifer Rothschild: Interesting.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And we have this totally wrong feeling of what it means to trust God where we get discontented with our lot because it isn't a field of green with easy mouthfuls and easy, easy provision or lots of time for doing stuff or lots of energy for doing stuff and we get discontented and instead what we're called to do that will completely revisit and completely help us set that discontent aside is instead to recognize, that actually, the way God tends to work is asking us to trust Him for a mouthful at a time, a little bit of energy at a time, just enough time to get what we need to get done that day. He's given us twenty-four hours and the need for sleep for a reason, and it's all designed to lead us into that confident trust.

Jennifer Rothschild: That interesting.

Shaunti Feldhahn: That is so crucial. Yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: I've never thought of it that way and you know my mind immediately went to the Lord's Prayer, "give us this day our daily bread." Not give me everything I need for the next thirty days so I don't have to check in until then.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Exactly.

Jennifer Rothschild: You know, it's a, it's a good reminder, Shaunti. Very good reminder.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Well, with the thing that steals a lot of a sense of joy is having our expectations not be met. Right? That's scientifically, just so you know, that's whether it's being unhappy in marriage or being unhappy with your work or whatever. Usually, what they found, is that if you have an expectation that isn't isn't happening, it isn't being met, or it's being met differently and that causes frustration and sadness and discontent. And so the key is to shift the expectation and expect that God is going to ask you to trust Him in every step.

Jennifer Rothschild: Let's, let's keep going. This is so good.

Shaunti Feldhahn: You want to do another one?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, I want to do another one.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Okay, good. So there, and I don't know how many you want to try to get in in the next few minutes, one of the other things that we really, really have to grasp ahold of is the need for forgiveness and not just the need for forgiveness, the need to forgive others as well, both asking for forgiveness from others and offering it.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hmm.

Shaunti Feldhahn: It is astounding how much. And by the way, the science on this is overwhelming. This is not just something that we've all learned from childhood about the Bible or whatever, that the science is absolutely crucial to say you are bound up without a sense of joy and instead you're bound up with bitterness and frustration and anger when you are not forgiving someone else. And we all know that, we've heard that, you know, the person that is the hurt the most is us, not the other person.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Shaunti Feldhahn: But we also kind of forget it also works with asking for forgiveness. That if you have hurt someone, there's something in your spirit that really recognizes that somebody else has something against you and you need to reach out. It works. It works both ways.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, and that goes back to what you said earlier about even, you know, just the relational conflict, how that just will squash your joy. But I do think there's something that gets crammed up in our souls when we don't receive forgiveness and when we don't give forgiveness, it just opens this place for resentment and where there's resentment, gosh, there is no joy. I, I have found myself in those situations before. But, you know, it's interesting, Shaunti, about everything you've shared. So sneaky. All of it so sneaky because we can just we can go on autopilot and forget to be grateful, harbor resentment, etc.. So, okay, let's just do one more.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: And then I want to ask you one last question.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Sure. Okay, so one of the last ones that I think is really crucial is, I want everybody to picture this. You're grumpy, you are upset, you're worried. Okay, and a dear friend comes to you and says, "Oh my gosh, you know, my husband just, you know, he was hospitalized, he was in an accident and I really need prayer." And you go, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. What can I do? I'll pray, but how about I take the kids so you can go down to the hospital, or can I can I bring a meal over." And you start really focusing on how to meet the needs and serve this dear friend. What happens to your feelings of being grumpy, frustrated, and worried about your situation? They completely melt away. And there's something about how God has created us that when we are reaching out to others with their needs, it is absolutely transformative to our mindset and our spirit and it sort of opens up our perspective into a completely different place. And that's really the sort of the fertile ground for finding joy all the time is just constantly have that mindset. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're bringing somebody a meal every night, but it means you're being kind.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Shaunti Feldhahn: It means you have a mindset of kindness everywhere you go.

Jennifer Rothschild: And I know you've written about that and done research on that, which I also highly recommend, it is so good. So these are some really practical Scriptural and scientifically confirmed ways that you can find joy or and the impact of joy. What is it that we do, is there just one, or what are some of the things that we do that sabotage our joy?

Shaunti Feldhahn: Well, scientifically, the biggest one and, there's a lot of people like me who aren't going to like hearing this, but the biggest thing that we do is to express discontent.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hm.

Shaunti Feldhahn: That is by far the biggest thing that we do to undermine what God wants to do with us and the joyful mindset that He wants us to have. Which, by the way, let's not forget that joy is supposed to be the characteristic of the Christian, like that is supposed to be one of the things that most characterizes us because we have reason for it, this eternal reason. And instead, when we complain a little bit, there's a lot in the Bible about not grumbling or complaining.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And we don't realize it's not just for those other people out there that we're complaining to, or about. It's also for us and our sake, because what happens is we don't, we don't realize this, and this is probably getting into more than we have time for. But we have all bought a myth, me too, that the idea of venting is healthy.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. So, so tell me about this expressing discontent, because you can feel it and you deal with it. But why is it that expressing it is the sabotager?

Shaunti Feldhahn: Well, it turns out that the concept that we've all believed is that expressing it is healthy because you're venting a little steam out of the kettle, right?

Jennifer Rothschild: Uh huh.

Shaunti Feldhahn: So that it doesn't explode. That's what we've all thought was the key. I did an event for a big public university, a virtual event, of course, on how do you improve your mental health during this time. And I asked these twenty year olds, imagine you've been treated unfairly. There's a really, really frustrating situation. And what's the best response? And eighty-eight percent of these students said the healthiest response was to vent a little bit, so that you didn't explode later. Well, it turns out the neuroscientists have found that's completely inaccurate neurologically.

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And that what happens is when you express that, whether it's verbally or in your tone or your facial expressions, like the exasperated sigh with your kids or whatever.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Shaunti Feldhahn: Or even just pop it off something on social media because you're so frustrated. It turns out what's happening is you're actually turning on, your activating, this interconnected anger system in your brain. And it's actually the better analogy isn't that you're venting. The better analogy is that you're turning up the heat under the pot.

Jennifer Rothschild: Ooh.

Shaunti Feldhahn: And so if you will instead, if you will say, I'm going to refuse to go [complaining noises], about whatever it is that's driving me nuts right now. And instead, and this is back to Philippians 4:8, right, think on something good instead. Like I'm frustrated that I'm not on the road and how are we going to pay our staff. But you know what? How awesome that I could hang out with my friends on a Saturday night. Right. If you do that, it's the equivalent of you've taken the pot off the burner entirely and you put the lid on it. And it's like the steam, the frustration, the anger, so to speak. It just sort of melts away.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hmm.

Shaunti Feldhahn: That's the way God has wired us and instead when you think about what's lovely, instead, that's when joy begins to build and we don't realize how often we sabotage these good gifts that God wants to give us because we're so focusing on and expressing discontent with some of the very real things that are happening instead.

KC Wright: I thought this was so interesting.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know, me too.

KC Wright: I mean, I could listen to her all day and I love how science has affirmed the Scripture. God has told us how to choose joy, and then science has proven once again it's true.

Jennifer Rothschild: Of course, right?

KC Wright: Right, of course, that's how it works. Science affirms the Bible is true.

Jennifer Rothschild: Always.

KC Wright: Just a fascinating conversation. I'm going to review these eight choices because there was a lot to take in. So if you need to do that too, go to the show notes at to review. I'll be there with you soon, okay. And we will have a link to her book there, too. And giveaway alert!

Jennifer Rothschild: Whoop. Whoop. Whoop.

KC Wright: We're giving one away. Go to Jennifer's Insta profile at JenRothschild or you could find a link to her Instagram at the show notes too. So make sure you enter so you can win this great book and, by the way, she wrote it as a sixty-day devotional, so it's easy to absorb and apply.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, I love that about it. And I hope you win, my friend. I hope you win. You know, one thing that she said that really stuck with me was this concept of focusing on what is worthy of praise rather than focusing on what is worthy of driving you crazy. Good word, I needed it. Okay, so we're winding up, but I thought I would end this podcast today with one of my audio pictures that Shaunti and I talked about so that you can kind of get a feel for what one is like. So it'll show up after the theme music ends, so hang out till then so you can hear my audio picture. And until next week, remember that no matter what your circumstances are, you can choose joy because you can do all things through Christ, who gives you strength. I can!

Jennifer Rothschild: I can!

KC Wright: And you can!

Jennifer Rothschild: This is an audio picture, of Trip and Pops, on the playground. It's sunny and it's very breezy, and what you cannot see is the big smile on my face. [Laughing] He is laughing so hard. [Kid playing / laughing in the background.]

Go deeper into this week's question in my Bible Study Bistro Facebook group. There's a community of 4:13ers waiting for you!