Life obviously comes with its ups and its downs, but the course of life does not take away from the importance of finding joy. In fact, the University of Chicago reported that a recent survey revealed that happiness amongst Americans had fallen to a five-decade low. Because of the state of our external world, finding joy can feel daunting, but it as important as ever to continuously find joy and happiness, and, you are deserving.
What is joy?
Joy is an internal experience that includes feelings of, or encourages the outward expression of, happiness and positivity. Joy, or happiness, contribute to overall well-being. Joy can be experienced in challenging times, as well as positive or inspiring times of life. Joy lives in the same space as shame, anger, frustration, or sadness and in fact we would not understand one without the other. Joy looks like great delights, feelings of, or the experiences associated with bliss, and feels like satisfaction, celebration, or vibrant and undeniable happiness.
Joy can sometimes feel unattainable and it is important to remember, one of the most influential factors of joy is whether or not your basic needs are being met. While genetics also play a role, there are ways in which you can increase joy in your life. It seems like a cliche but it is true, “when you change your mind, you change everything.” Again, there are external influences on our internal experience but shifting your perspective can help you to start paying closer attention to the positive parts of your life. There is always a bright side, and when viewing the bright side becomes a habit, joy becomes part of normal existence.
There is joy to be had in your work, your home, and in your day-to-day life.
When we are connected with other people there is an increase of positive emotions. Even though COVID-19 is keeping us apart in many ways, virtual get togethers or socially distanced outings can get you out of your head and enjoying others. Connection contributes to positive emotions, better overall health, more contentment and overall happiness. It is important that the people you spend your time with are happy people. Your vibes and other's vibes influence each other and so it is as important for you to be a happy friend, colleague or associate, as it is for someone to be your slice of the happiness pie.
As important as it is to have close friends and connections it is joy-inspiring to have casual and friendly interaction with store clerks, a neighbor walking their dog, or your barista. These casual interactions spark joy and can help you to feel socially connected with others.
Make a Joy List
If you are unsure of exactly how to find joy in your life, you might be in a rut. A great way to reflect and start moving forward is by making a list of what contributes to your joy. Making this list encourages reflection, and helps you to take strides towards finding joy. Perhaps this list will help you to reach out to friends or family and make plans, or maybe your joy list reminds you that it is time to redecorate your space (think office, home or bedroom) to reflect more of your personal style. Maybe getting outside is on your list. Carve out some time to go for a walk. Your list might also include reading, playing with a pet, gardening, cooking, eating, having cocktails with friends, or simply laughing.
Giving stimulates the same part of your brain that helps you to experience feelings of joy. This does not mean you have to over give, but giving just a little triggers as much happiness as giving a lot.
You can also give kindness. Perhaps you can challenge yourself to performing five acts of kindness each week, or even each month. Here is something to keep in mind, research has indicated it is important to vary these kind acts. Here are a few kind ideas:
Bake a friend or neighbor a treat
Write a thank you note to someone letting them know why you appreciate them
Run an errand for a friend
Pass on a great book
Move For Ten Minutes
This one speaks for itself. Ten minutes is a general rule of thumb and should be looked at as the minimum. An important part of maintaining good mental health is moving. Find a way to move that works for you. Movement should not feel like a chore and if you are vigorously exercising, of course it requires hard work, but there should be some joy involved. Workout classes are a great way to socialize while moving your body.
Take a moment to make a list of ten things you have gratitude for. Practicing gratitude or reflecting on what you have gratitude for helps to spark joy and optimism. Making a gratitude list regularly also helps you more easily take into account the small gestures that make a big difference in your day to day life. You could also reflect on your gratitude with others. This is like a celebration even further sparking feelings of joy and optimism.