5 Ways to Set the Tone for Greater Joy in Your Life

5 Ways to Set the Tone for Greater Joy in Your Life

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There were days when my career as a teacher felt more like a career as an actress. These were the days when I rolled out of bed in a fog of exhaustion and had no desire to paste on a perky smile and stand in front a class with catchy phrases and animated explanations.  A colleague once said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to be ‘on’ every moment of every day?  Some days all I want is a cubicle somewhere.” I think of her words often. I no longer spend my days in front of a classroom, but I’ve realized that it’s up to me to set the tone, to find greater joy, no matter where the Lord plants me.

When he plants me in front of the cashier at the grocery store, I have anywhere from fifteen seconds to three minutes to change the tone of her day.  When he leads me into a conversation with my neighbor, I have ten short minutes to set the tone of our relationship.  And when my sleepy children emerge from their warm beds in the morning, it’s up to me to set the tone.

Barking orders about shoes, brushed teeth, and how many times do I have to tell you to make your bed, this dawned on me this week. When I set a tone of brusqueness and frustration, my children willingly follow.  They yell at each other and furrow their little brows.

When I set a tone of kindness, patience, gratitude, and love, they do the same.

What if we went into every situation with the awareness that it’s up to us to set the tone, and what if setting the tone is the very way we impart the love of God to those around us? What if it’s this tone-setting that surrenders our lives and draws others to the beauty of God’s love?

I think back on the days before the children and the hustle that comes with trying to get us all out the door in a timely fashion, and I’m reminded that setting the tone isn’t only about the way we interact with others. It’s also about how we interact with ourselves.

When I climb from my bed and decide it’s going to be a rainy, dreary, life-draining day, I set the tone for this exact chain of events. When I awaken and decide that I’m going to give thanks, despite the rain and the impending to-do list, I set a tone of greater joy.

When I grumble through the making of coffee with the stained pot, the brushing of teeth in the smudged mirror, and the drive down the road in the rusting car, I magnify what’s lacking. When I thank God for running water, electricity, and the simple fact that we own a car, I change the tone.

Certainly, this is why we’re called to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This is why we’re told to do everything without grumbling (Philippians 2:14).  This is why we’re reminded to give thanks always (Ephesians 5:20).

I conclude with five quick and easy ways to set the right tone for your day:

1. Begin the day by thanking God for something

Thank him that you are alive to see his hand move in your life for another day.  Thank him for the sunrise or the bed where you sleep or the joy of serving others.

2. Spend some time in the Bible

Read even one verse.  Simply fix your mind on what is true before the world begins throwing discouragement in your direction.  Biblegateway.com offers a simple gift of a “Verse of the Day,” sending one verse to your inbox each morning.  If a chapter or a paragraph is too much in this season, begin with a single verse.

3. Intentionally clothe yourself with kindness

A common phrase used with our children is the reminder to clothe themselves with kindness.  Literally imagine stepping into kindness as you begin your day.  Greet the people you see first with kindness, even if you’d rather crawl under a rock until you’ve had your first cup of coffee.

4. Plan for margin time in your day

One of our culture’s great joy-stealers is the pressure to hurry – the pressure to rush to the next thing and chase the idol of productivity.  Combat this pressure by intentionally giving yourself ten extra minutes to get the kids dressed in their coats and shoes and get out the door.  Give yourself a few extra minutes on your drive to work in case traffic or tractors block your way.  Leave space to say hello to a neighbor or really look into the eyes of the cashier at the gas station.

5. Ask the Lord to lead you to people who need his encouragement

Self-focus is a joy-killer.  Instead of contemplating your day and your plans and your goals as you lift your day before the Lord, ask him to bring the names and faces of others to mind.  Ask him to give you verses or encouraging words that will uplift these people.  Focus on being a blessing more than you focus on receiving the blessing of others.  You will be blessed in the process.

Wherever God leads you today – whether you’re heading into the hustle of corporate America or quietly tending to your own life – may you remember the importance of setting the tone.

About Stacey Pardoe

Stacey Pardoe is a wife, mother of two young children, writer, Bible teacher, and mentor. She is most passionate about walking closely with Christ and sharing his love with a broken world. Find out more about her at her website.


  1. An excellent list to follow. Thank you. I’d like to make all five on the list a matter of habit.

  2. Setting the tone is definitely something we have to consciously focus on. Your examples hit home with me – if I’m crabby, then I have a crappy day. I’ve had to work on #4, especially on Sunday morning when I’m rushing to church. What is more important, helping the lady wandering in below zero weather or getting to Sunday School on time? I have to ask myself.

    • These are such great points, Barbara! I have to remind myself of these things all the time! I’m especially prone to get caught up in my own agenda and schedule and miss moments to help and bless others! Thanks for speaking this reminder back into my life today!

  3. What a wonderful list! Thank you so much, this is exactly what our world needs.

  4. Couldn’t have said this any better, Stacy. Truly helpful ponderings and strategies for us to enter our days. I find also, that at different seasons of life, I have to set the tone more vigilantly due to the changes in responsibilities in my life. Yet still, I must be responsible. Thank you for saying this graciously and poignantly.

    • That’s a very good point, Kristin! There are certainly seasons when I have to be more vigilant too. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment! May you be blessed as you set the tone for your days!

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