Most of us know that the joy-factor is not increased by accumulating money or possessions beyond our needs. So where do we find joy? What experiences, thoughts, and relationships help us live more joyfully?
Here are my top ten:
1. Set goals and complete them. There is something satisfying, if not joy-producing, in crossing a task off a list or completing a goal. We are programmed towards accomplishment and we’re frequently frustrated with procrastination, indecision, and lost dreams. Create a tool to measure your progress in order to appreciate the satisfaction and joy of completion.
2. Add music to your life. It’s difficult to hold on to a frown when enveloped by a rollicking Irish jig or a symphony orchestra. Listening to music elicits joy. Participation by singing, dancing, or playing an instrument heightens the experience.
3. Make something. The click, click of knitting needles, the hum of a sewing machine, the pounding of a nail, the aroma of fresh bread all help us connect to joy. Not only the act of creating a product but being proud of the end result add to our positive feelings.
4. Grow something. Like creating a product; growing a tree, a garden, or an African violet, can bring ongoing satisfaction. Nurturing a growing thing, spending time in nature, admiring the beauty of a plant, all contribute.
5. Give freely. When you give your time, your talents, and/or your money, you’ll give yourself a shot of joy. There is something powerful about giving freely.
6. Get physical. Move your body. Talk a walk, go for a run, have great sex, row a boat, paint your bathroom. There is strong scientific evidence that significant physical movement activates endorphins that make us feel more joyful.
7. Add color. Feeling low? Take off that black dress and put on something colorful. In addition to your clothing, add color to your surroundings with fresh flowers, beautiful art, or a vibrant throw pillow.
8. Connect with friends. Friendship is one of our greatest gifts. Spending time with friends nearly always makes us more joyful. Call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time, set a Zoom date with someone who makes you laugh, drop cookies off to a friend who is lonely.
9. Learn how to be your own best friend. People who learn to be their own best friend and embrace time alone, are in possession of a great gift. Learn how to embrace aloneness before you find yourself truly alone.
10. Stretch your mind. Learning something new can be challenging. However, when we embrace that challenge, we usually come away feeling renewed and fulfilled.
There is practically no limit to the possibilities for joy when we look for them. When you are in a state of joy, say thank you as you acknowledge your joyful feelings. This will attract more joy to your life.