5 Steps to Your More Joyful Life

I read an article recently that we don’t use weekends wisely. (I assumed the article referred to Americans but am sure this applies to others as well.) We do chores, grocery shopping, visit with family or friends, run the kids to sports or events, clean house, and whittle down our to-do list. So when did we recharge? When do we relax and let joy into our life? Many of us never do. Some of us plan to do it when we retire. But putting off the things that bring you joy is a disservice to yourself and those around you. Joy isn’t a luxury. There are ways you can create your more joyful life.

Image of a happy running dog with text "Joy is not a luxury. It is not selfish. It is as necessary as the oxygen you breath. Joy recharges you." Take these 5 steps to your more joyful life

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.

Joseph Campbell

Schedule Time for Joy

Did you know you can fall out of practice with joy? Joy is a choice. If you don’t have time, you don’t experience joy—you develop a subconscious habit of not choosing joy.

We all live busy lives. You probably already schedule time for that basketball game or the grocery shopping or dinner with family. Hopefully, some of those things bring you joy. But what if you’re so busy doing, you don’t remember the last time you were joyful? 

If we don’t control our schedule – our schedule will control us.

Wayde Goodall, Why Great Men Fall: 15 Winning Strategies to Rise Above It All

Start today. Block out time to practice choosing joy. Schedule at least fifteen minutes twice a week. Better yet, schedule ten to fifteen minutes each day. 

Write an “I Appreciate You” Letter to Yourself

Image of a red heart

It’s nearly impossible to experience joy without self-love. Expressing appreciation for all that you do opens you up to self-love. You can write, Hello, Self or any other salutation you wish. If that is difficult to do, pretend you’re writing to your older self or pretend you’re a biographer praising your subject. Thank yourself for at least one specific event or action. Be positive and sincere, even if you have to pretend. Sometimes we have to play the role before we are comfortable in it.

Practice Basic Mindfulness

Before you exclude mindfulness as too “out-there,” basic mindfulness is simply being aware of your body. Often, we are so busy doing that we ignore or suppress our emotions and our body. Yet, awareness is essential to experiencing more joyfulness. 

The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Basic mindfulness doesn’t need to take a lot of time or any special effort. You can walk, run, sit, or fold laundry. Take five minutes. Straighten your body into a comfortable, not stiff, position. Pay attention to how your breath flows in and out. What do your legs feel like? Your arms? What do you smell? Feel? Hear?

That’s it. Practice that so that when you choose joy, you can feel it, too. Want to know more? Visit mindful.org.

Indulge Your Senses

image of a woman's foot in white sand

Part of mindfulness, this exercise helps sharpen your senses by focusing on one of them at a time.

Taste

Sit in a dark, quiet room and enjoy a favorite snack. Savor it. Does it taste the same as when you eat it while watching TV?

Sight

Set a timer for two minutes. Stare at the flame of a candle for up to seven seconds without blinking. Close your eyes for the same amount of time. Repeat for two minutes. 

Hearing

For three to ten minutes, sit in the dark and listen to music, not on your playlist. 

Smell

Close your eyes and sniff citrus, mint, lavender, or a fragrant spice. Notice what springs to mind.

Touch

Massage your feet with a tennis ball. Close your eyes and run your hands over different fabrics or textured objects. Focus on the feeling.

Experiment, have fun. Find joy while indulging your senses.

Document Your Journey to Your More Joyful Life

When we begin a journey that requires time and repetition, it’s difficult to see our progress. So document the exercises you try, the pockets of joy (Give yourself the gift of joy) you create. By documenting your successes and near-misses, you will see both what works for you and how far you’ve come.

Documenting your journey doesn’t have to be tedious. If you like journaling—journal what you do and what brings you joy. If you don’t like to write a bunch of stuff down, try doodles, or bullet points, or graphs, or stickers on the calendar. Give yourself a map so you can see your progress no matter how long it takes.

Make Joy a Habit

Science says it takes twenty-one days of practice to make a habit. Does that make you feel like giving up? Don’t expect perfection. If you stop practicing, start again. Keep re-starting until you’ve achieved a habit of giving yourself pockets of joy. Before you know it, you’ll be living your more joyful life.

Share A Pocket of Joy

Sharing joy magnifies it. So, please take a moment and share something from your more joyful life.

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