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.

Give Yourself the Gift of Joy

You know each person has a certain level of intelligence we call an IQ. Maybe you’ve heard that each individual has a unique ability to perceive, manage and regulate emotions, an emotional IQ. Did you know you also have an individual level of joyfulness? You can choose to live up to your joy potential—or not. Don’t overlook it. Give yourself the gift of joy.

Photograph over the heads and upraised arms of a crowd against diffuse colored lights --give yourself the gift of joy

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”

Dennis P. Kimbro

What is Joy?

Some people use joy and happiness as synonyms. Even Merriam-Webster defines happiness as “a state of well-being and contentment: JOY.” But that’s not quite right. 

According to Merriam-Webster, joy is “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing one’s desires.” That’s a dry answer. 

The APA Dictionary of Psychology says joy is “a feeling of extreme gladness, delight, or exultation of the spirit arising from a sense of well-being or satisfaction.” This dictionary explains the difference between active and passive joy. “Both forms of joy are associate with an increase in energy and of confidence and self-esteem.” 

Be Honest with Yourself

Life is full of ups and downs. No one is joyful all the time, but think about what your general mood is over the course of a week or a month. Are you more sad? Or angry? Fine? Happy? Or joyful? Take a moment and assess yourself. How do you feel most days? 

Are you satisfied with your answer? Or would you prefer an increase in energy and confidence and self-esteem? 

Think you can’t do anything about your joy potential because of your life’s responsibilities? Think again. Take responsibility for your choice. Give yourself the gift of joy.

Let your joy be in your journey – not in some distant goal.

Tim Cook

Choose Joy

How do you choose joy? There are many ways. You can find lists of ways to find joy all over the internet. We’ll explore those more thoroughly over the course of the next few weeks. But the first step is to choose joy. 

Again, be honest with yourself. Sometimes joy isn’t easy to find or feel.(I know, I’ve been there.) If you’re in one of those times, honor your feelings. But set a date with yourself, a time in the not-too-distant-future, when you will re-evaluate. A time when you can look for joy.

Every single second is an opportunity to change your life, because in any moment you can change the way you feel.

Rhonda Byrne

Look for Joy

Journal, make a collage, doodle, or make a list of things that have brought you joy in the past.

Think about the most recent event or activity that made you joyful. Include that on your list.

A Pocket of Joy

You have to create little pockets of joy in your life to take care of yourself. Jonathan Van Ness

Take five minutes and create one pocket of joy for yourself today. It can be a silly song:

Or a baby’s laughter:

Or a pet’s silly antics:

Did you give yourself the gift of joy today? Let me know in the comments what pocket of joy you created for yourself. And stay tuned for next week’s suggestions on how you can live up to your joy potential.

Will You Celebrate Pride Month with These First Lines?

First Line Friday is a series of blog articles posted on the first Friday of every month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. Will you celebrate Pride Month with these first lines?

First Lines

As she woke up in the pod, she remembered three things.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers Book 1) Becky Chambers

The stranger came out of the sea like a water ghost, barefoot and wearing the scars of his journey. 

The Priory of the Orange Tree Samantha Shannon

Busting up a casino has never been at the top of Oriol Sina’s bucket list, but here he is, standing in the middle of the Dorothy Queen dressed for trouble in a suit he’d much rather be admiring on another man.

Double Edged (The Bulari Saga Book 1) Jessie Kwak

Outbreaks of magic started all kinds of ways.

The Fever King
(Feverwake Book 1) Victoria Lee

Behind the clouds of the new monsoon, the ancient mainframe Chang rolls too fast across the sky.

The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai

Londres, 1898 (ninety-three years after Trafalgar)

Most people have trouble recalling their first memory, because they have to stretch for it, like trying to touch their toes; but Joe didn’t.

The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

Ari was hiding out in the Middle Ages. 

Once & Future Cori McCarthy and A.R. Capetta

Hannah left the meeting in the Dean’s eighth-floor suite determined not to cry.

Sappho’s Overhead Projector by Bonnie J. Morris

When the Stavenger Empir turned its eyes to the stars, seeking new worlds to conquer, it found exactly what it was looking for.

Aetherbound by E.K. Johnston 

Hadi!

He coughed, choking on the rainwater that streamed down the sides of his broken nose.

Hellfire (A Beyond Human Novel) by Michelle Schad

Clarification

There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually these titles are pulled at random and chosen because their title, cover, and first line piqued my interest. (Every once in a while, I’ll share a friend’s novel). They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.

Do You Want to Read More?

Will you celebrate Pride Month with these first lines? Didn’t find anything of interest? Check out previous First Line Fridays. You’ll put another enormous smile on my face if you tell me in the comments below— Which ones spoke to you? Did you buy it?