Finding the Joy In Your Lifeby Linda Fayard, M.S.
What are your first feelings and thoughts when you wake up every morning? Are they about the joy and excitement that the coming day holds for you, or more of dread and anxiety for all the pressure and responsibilities you’ll have to shoulder? If finding joy in your life is difficult for you to do, it may be time to take steps to become more aware of the joy that should be a part of all our lives.
The term “joy” is more than just feeling happy about something. Joy can be experienced emotionally, mentally, and physically. It is an emotion that includes feelings of peace and satisfaction, as well as our old friend happiness. It is a positive feeling that should encompass all your daily activities.
Life is too short to spend it stressed, depressed, and so busy that you don’t experience the joy that it holds. In actuality, most of us have more joy in our lives than we realize, but often are too stressed and moving too fast to pay attention. We sometimes develop a tunnel vision that keeps us from recognizing the joy we could be experiencing.
Your first step in achieving joy should be in distinguishing what joy truly means to you. It’s not the same for everyone. Think for a minute about what brings joy into your life. Close your eyes and think about pleasant people, things, places, and experiences until you discover a smile spreading across your face. These are the things that bring you joy.
While being happy is a nice thing, it’s not necessarily joyful. You may feel happy when the evening commute is quicker than usual, or when you find you’re having a favorite food for dinner. But joy is a higher level, more intense degree of happiness. That happiness over the commute probably disappears when you pull into your driveway, but a true feeling of joy stays with you, coloring the activities in your life and helping you to see all of your daily activities in a more positive light.
Obviously, we all have different things that bring joy to us and we all experience various levels of joy. Our sense of joy grows from our emotional, physical and mental well-being. In line with that, there are a number of things we can do to enhance our awareness of the joy in our lives:
- Enjoy your relationships. Make an effort to look for the things in the relationships with your family, your friends, even your job, that are important to you, that you are thankful for, and that you enjoy.
- Look for the positive. Take the time to see what’s good and makes you feel good in even the little things that are part of your daily life.
- Whenever possible, avoid negative things and negative people. Life is simply too short.
- Seek peace in your life. Take time to watch a sunset, to appreciate the beauty of nature. Spend a few moments mediating each day on what’s good in your life.
- Take time to relax. Take a long hot bath, listen to favorite music, enjoy a few quiet moments with your children or pets.
- Enjoy a hobby. Make time to discover and explore things you truly enjoy.
- Take care of yourself. Healthy eating, regular exercise and plenty of rest all help you feel better and more easily find the joy in your life.
- Keep a daily journal. Every evening record 3 to 5 things that you were thankful for that day. This simple activity helps you become more aware of the positive things going on around you.
- Make time for you. It’s difficult to appreciate and enjoy all the positive things in your life when you are going non-stop. To find the joy in your life, you need the time to reflect on all the good things that are there. Rushing from one activity to another only builds stress and tension, not joy. You may have to learn that sometimes saying “no” to the many demands upon your time is sometimes necessary to reduce stress and increase your level of joy.
Do some self-reflection and measure how the stress in your life balances against the joy. Finding more joy in your life means actively seeking it out, in both the big and little things. If you sit back and wait for the joy to appear, you’ll miss out on a lot of joyful opportunities. The goal is to actively seek out joy on a daily basis.
Linda Fayard is a counselor who owns her own consulting firm, specializing in advising businesses in the areas of anger/stress management and diversity issues. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.