LIFE: Jessica Hatcher encourages filling your life with joy to make tough times more bearable. (Photo provided)

So — it’s February.

This month tends to drag on. I think many can agree that February is not their favorite month. It is especially cold and has been too cold for too long. It is the time between J-Term and spring break that tends to be filled with homework, stress, maybe some warm fuzzies on February 14th — or a lack thereof. Netflix is extremely attractive and staying in bed sounds like the best combination of warmth, comfort and zero responsibilities.

What will we do to survive February?! I think it takes some intentional thought. When I was in college, I was going through a particularly depressive and anxious phase, and my RD said, “What brings you life?” My response was, “Uhhh. That seems like a loaded question. I don’t know. Oxygen? Food?” That was me being a smart aleck and ignoring the reality that I didn’t know myself very well. If she had asked me, “What brings you death?” I would have had quite a long list — after all, my problems seemed to be all I was thinking about.

Once she asked me that question, I could not get it out of my head. I decided to apply this question to my life and start figuring it out. I was pretty bummed when I realized I was not sure I had many things that brought me life. I asked myself more specific questions. When do I feel joy? When do I feel fulfilled? When do I feel peace? The answers ended up being simple and manageable. Some of them were reading a good book, having coffee with a good friend, playing intramurals, doing yoga, helping out with youth group, dancing, hammocking with friends.

Once I knew the answers, I decided to ask myself this question every day: “Will I do something that brings me life today?”

Although we might not be able to control when tests and projects are due simultaneously, or plan the fight with our roommate that leaves us working in the lobby, or coach letting practice go over again, we can choose to implement things in our day that bring us life. The more we do what brings us life, the less we will feel like stressful responsibilities are slowing killing us. This takes having some awareness about what God has blessed us with. His joys are everywhere. We must be willing to look for them.

Ask yourself these questions: When do I feel joy? When do I feel fulfilled? When do I feel peace? I hope the answers to these questions pleasantly surprise you. When you figure them out, start putting them in your planner or set a reminder on your phone. Whatever will work best to have joy in your days.

Will you do something that brings you life today?