I got to thinking today about happiness and joy. What is happiness and how do we find it? And beyond just being happy, do we feel real joy in our lives or do we settle for finding worth simply in being busy, which gives us a sense of importance and accomplishment. Most of us fill our lives with things that keep us busy but do we know what really makes us happy? Many of us believe that happiness is a future state that we’ll experience when any number of criteria we set for ourselves are finally met. Do we ever stop to notice the happiness that exists in our everyday lives or do we make joy an ultimate destination?
I think there are two key elements to happiness and joy. The first is to be present in your own life every day. Of course you’re there, but are you worrying about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow or are you taking in the wonder of each day and actively finding things to cultivate joy? Do you notice the small things around you and appreciate their presence? The second is an attitude of gratitude. Are you chasing the things you don’t have right now in order to create a feeling of accomplishment or success later on or are you able to appreciate what you have right now and be grateful for everything that brought you to where you are in your life at this moment?
Here are a few thought starters that all of us could use as ways to both cultivate and recognise the joy in every day life.
- Try something new. It doesn’t matter what it is or if you’re good at it. It matters that you’re brave enough to try something that you’re curious about.
- Get outside. Spend an hour in the sunshine and fresh air instead of in front of the TV or on your mobile phone and notice the trees, the birds, the flowers and the other incredible sights and sounds all around us.
- Reconnect with an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while, face to face. If they’re in another city or country, surprise them with a call.
- Pay a compliment to someone and notice their reaction. This is especially cool if you pay a stranger a compliment, but the trick is to always be authentic.
- Volunteer your time and talents somewhere. There is always an opportunity for all of us to use these two things to help improve the life of someone or something else.
- Listen to your favourite band or artist. Even better, turn it up loud and sing along.
- Go somewhere new. Even if you don’t have money to travel, there are loads of places around that you can visit within the town or city you live in without it costing you a fortune.
- Spend time with a pet. If you don’t have a pet of your own, spend time with a friend’s pet. Animals have an incredible way of grounding us and showing us what unconditional love and acceptance looks like in action.
- Raise your heart rate. Not all of us are athletic, but all of us can benefit from something as simple as a brisk walk.
- Hand write someone a thank you note. This is a meaningful gesture that rarely ever happens anymore in our technologically driven world.
- Carve out time each week just for yourself. Amongst the busyness of everything else that goes on in our lives, whether you’re able to book a spa treatment or just spend time each week reading a good book, creating the space for self-care is a critical component of long-term wellness.
- Spend an afternoon with a senior citizen. Ask them to share some of their favourite memories. Spoil them with something you know they love.
- Print and frame a special photograph and place it in a prominent place in your home to remind you of that moment.
- Share a piece of inspirational content with someone and let them know why you’re sharing it with them or why it reminded you of them.
- Find ways to create laughter every day. Laughing is an incredible way to relive stress so whether it’s spending time with close friends or watching a favourite funny movie again, remember that it’s hard not to feel happy when you’re laughing.
Challenge yourself over the next week or two to try one new way of deliberately cultivating joy by trying one new thing each day. Notice how it makes you feel and the reaction of people around you. Before you know it, happiness and joy become a habit and that’s a great way to live life!
#LIVELIFELOVELIFE #liveinthemoment #bebetteratbeingbetter #payitforwards #ShiftHappens