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.


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?


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. 


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


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


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.

The Challenge of 2020 is to Find Your Joy

I’m worried about you. On my Facebook and twitter feeds, I see a lot of you are in distress. Yes, we’ve more than a few challenges this year. For some of you, those challenges are down right catastrophes. But for a lot of you, you’re taking on those catastrophes as your own. You’ve lost your joy. And that is a catastrophe. The challenge of 2020 is to find your joy. Without a little joy each day, you’re allowing the world and events you cannot control to control you and how you feel. Perhaps you’ll find a little joy in one of these quotes.

two kids playing joyfully in water--do you find your joy in water play?

Joy While Having a Bad Day

Those who prepared for all the emergencies of life beforehand may equip themselves at the expense of joy.

E. M. Forster

I discovered that joy is not the negation of pain, but rather acknowledging the presence of pain and feeling happiness in spite of it.

Lupita Nyong’o

We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!

Russell M. Nelson

We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.

Joseph Campbell

We have to embrace obstacles to reach the next stage of joy.

Goldie Hawn

If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.

Carlos Santana

Where to Look

a field of bright yellow flowers against a blue sky

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.

Karl Barth

The secret to life is finding joy in ordinary things.

Ruth Reichl

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

Tim Cook

 Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

Nhat Hanh

Ways to Think

I’m grounded in joy; I’m not grounded in the trauma anymore.

Tarana Burke

Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.

Mahatma Gandhi

Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.

Chuck Palahniuk

The soul’s joy lies in doing.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.

Eileen Caddy

Just follow your joy. Always. I think that if you do that, life will take you on the course that it’s meant to take you.

Jonathan Groff

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

Khalil Gibran


We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.


Joy is increased by spreading it to others.

Robert Murray McCheyne

Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by.

Carl Sandburg

Let there be more joy and laughter in your living.

Eileen Caddy

The challenge of 2020

In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.

W. H. Auden

Life is hard. The pandemic has made it harder, scarier. Add on politics, social injustices, fires, hurricanes, and all the usual life tragedies and you are surrounded with catastrophes. 

If the quotes aren’t helping, look at these 10 ways to find joy. Or perhaps you’ll find answers in Lifehack’s article or Oprah’s article.

Take a moment to evaluate your stress levels. And remember, life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. The challenge of 2020 is to find your joy. For all of us to find some joy. In the comments below, share the joy you’ve found. I hope it’s a joy that makes you wish for a tail to wag.

Do Things From Your Soul

Do you know who you are? Deep down inside. Some people call it the soul, some call it your heart of hearts, and others call it your true self or even your passion. You know when you are doing things from your soul because you are happier, more content. It feels right.

When you do things from your soul,
you feel a river moving in you. 
A joy.

– Rumi

You have made choices that put you where you are today. Are you doing things from your soul? Not necessarily your day job—sometimes you a job is what you must do. That’s okay as long as you find a way to do what you are meant to do.

From Your Soul

Doing things from your soul means that you make decisions from a place that feeds or supports your soul, that makes that river of joy move inside you. Your passion or heart project fills a void that makes you complete.

Photo of a waterfall and river surrounded by lush greenery. Do things from your soul and you'll feel the river move within you.

Do you know what those things are? The things that move you, that bring you joy? 

For some people, it’s one of the arts. Music, illustrating, sculpting, writing. Other people find that joy in gardening or running a race or riding a dirt bike. 

Often, those soul projects—those activities that come from our soul—become a job. When we compete with others or allow obligations to override our soul projects, we rob ourselves of the joy. If that happens take time to reflect on what it was that spoke to you before. 

Sometimes we’ve experienced what we needed or learned what we needed and it’s time to move on. It’s okay to change your path. Make certain the next path you choose is one whose river brings you joy.

Reclaim Your Joy

If you’ve lost your joy, can you get it back? It may take some work but you can.

1. Reconnect with yourself. Here are suggestions on ways to reconnect:

  • Journaling. 
  • Solitude. 
  • Physical work. 
  • Time spent in nature. 
  • Prayer. 
  • Meditation.
  • Reading—whatever speaks to you.
  • Exercise.

2. Reconnect with the project. 

  • Journaling.
  • Take a class.
  • Go back to basics, to the thing that first brought you joy.
  • Take a class.

3. Take a break.

  • Go on a retreat.
  • Put aside the things that are frustrating or difficult.
  • Visit a museum or zoo or garden.
  • Attend a concert or art show or race.
  • Play–give yourself permission to do something because it’s fun.

4. Change up your routine.

  • Alter your schedule.
  • Try working from a different location.
  • Meditate before or after you spend time on your project.
  • Add a new bit to your routine—burn incense or a candle, or exercise beforehand or repeat a mantra or poem that inspires you.

Find Joy

Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t found your passion, your soul’s work. Those steps above? The steps to reclaim your joy—they will also help you find your joy. Take the time to explore what you passions are. If you know your passions–do them from your soul.

You’ll know when you do things from your soul. Time and frustrations melt away. You’ll feel that river of joy.