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Graceologie Episode 146: Shaunti Feldhahn

Shaunti Feldhahn on the Graceologie with Gwen Smith podcast

Do you ever feel like joy is hard to find?


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Are you tired of forcing yourself to think happy thoughts amidst the current political and cultural climate? Have you ever asked yourself, “how do I find joy, especially in 2020 - in the midst of a pandemic & shut down?” (I’m guessing we’ve all asked that question!) Shaunti and I talk about her new book, Find Joy, which provides eight key elements for finding joy based on scripture and science. 

She shares how you can transform your mind to find Christ-focused wonder in the midst of everyday life – regardless of the circumstances. Bottom line is this: Your joy does NOT depend on your circumstances, and this conversation’s gonna help you figure out how this can be true in your day to day!


It comes naturally to worry but how can we have peace instead? Shaunti, as a social scientist and follower of Jesus Christ, takes a look at what scripture says AND what science says and what she has found that science backs up what scripture has said all along!

The things that were being seen that mattered in both science and scripture, by finding joy no matter our circumstances, these are big things that require a shift in perspective.So a little bit of daily learning and application is better than trying to drink it all in one day. 

What did science research show?

Shaunti looked through the Bible on how to find JOY and found 8 elements, very distinct, that were also showing basically the same 8 things through science that was backing up scripture. So powerful to see that the word of God and the best neuro scientists would say about how to find joy regardless of what’s going on. 

  1. Live in awe and recognize that God is so much bigger than any of the circumstances. 
  2. Practice gratitude 
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Remember what God has done for us in the past as a way of finding joy in our current circumstances trusting him.
  5. Trust!  but recognize that with God it’s having the confidence that he will do what He says he will do! 
  6. Listen. Hear his voice. 
  7. Keep God’s commands. We don’t recognize that one of the things that sabotages our ability to find joy is that we are not actually keeping to his guard rails.
  8. Reach out to others. When we can focus on others it lifts our head to bring us joy! 

How do we get this wrong and sabotage our joy?

Incredibly common for us to believe a myth and something very unbiblical: express dissatisfaction and vent. 

Believe it or not, according to neuroscience, blowing steam/venting is one of the worst things you can do. 

They have actually found, which is also in scripture, when you express that little bit of dissatisfaction, we have found that it actually activates this inner connected anger system in the brain. Instead of venting, which we think we’re doing, the better analogy is you’re turning the heat up under the pot. When you refuse to do that, express that complaint, it’s like you’re taking it off the burner. It’s as if you put the lid on and all of that steam (anger and frustration) you find that it just goes away. 

Scripture tells us in the 4th chapter of Philippians, Paul devotes a huge section of text to women having conflict and tells us to get along!

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

Think on whatever is lovely and worthy of praise rather than whatever is worthy of driving you crazy. 

What you put in, is what will come out. What you absorb is what you will see. What you focus on is what you will see. Common in science and in scripture; it’s easy to focus on the things that drive us bananas! But that doesn’t give us the excuse to act harsh and unkind, but to choose to rejoice in all circumstances! 

Catastrophizing: Because we sincerely believe something is going to be a catastrophe. It can be political, studying in school, dating the wrong person etc so somehow this translates in our mind that we have to confront that “thing”, with the license to be remarkably unkind. 

“Our choice to be kind brings joy.” Not intuitive, it can even be counter culture, yet when you look at Jesus and what he actually said in the Bible, he is saying, “ take the people being harsh and cruel, and I want you to treat them with the kindness and grace and compassion with which you wish they were treating you.”

Christ-like kindness that doesn’t come naturally, we have to rely on the Holy Spirit for help. 

When you reach out in kindness to others and let God do that through you when you don’t feel like it, he changes your heart and you start feeling like it. You feel the joy well up! 

“When you make choices to be grateful and forgive when you don’t feel like it, it does absolutely, suddenly give you this super natural powerful well-spring of joy that is not dependent on what is going on around you.”

What you can start doing today to move you forward in joy and kindness:

Withhold the automatic expressions of discontent. 

Training yourself and forcing yourself to not do that makes a big difference. Then pair that with what you can be thankful for and what is worthy of praise. It’s outstanding how that changes our experience of walking through a difficult season.