Now, more than ever, finding joy in your day-to-day experiences can improve the quality of life and enhance your mental health. As many of us are mired in intense and heavy information from the news and social media, social isolation, financial instability, and political unrest, it’s become more difficult to find peace – both internally and externally. Furthermore, for many adults who are working from home while taking on new responsibilities for their children’s academic needs, a newfound stress in the home is ever-present. How can we “spark joy” to lift our own and each other’s spirits during these stressful times?
Tips for finding joy in your life: Here are some ideas to give you a pick me up.
- Listen to your favorite music. Recalling positive memories while listening to your favorite music is an easy and passive way to boost your mood while working, cleaning or just hanging out at home. Research has shown that listening to your favorite jams can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve sleep quality, and enhance mood, too.
- Develop a daily gratitude practice. Just think of about 3 simple things for which you are grateful such as, “I am grateful for my family,” I’m grateful for my friends,” or “I’m grateful for my health.” I like to say aloud the things for which I am grateful as I am driving to work each day. By doing this daily gratitude practice, even during the most difficult and stressful times, your gratitude practice will help bring your circumstances into perspective, bring joy, and keep you grounded.
- Spend time visioning. Close your eyes and focus on your favorite place, prayer, person, or even vacation. Breathe into the moment and envision yourself with that person or in that place. Try to spend a dedicated 5 minutes soaking in the moment, slowing down your breathing, and relaxing your body. Meditating regularly in this way can help you have more positive experiences, and these short meditations may even help you create new ones.
- Find the “awe” moment in every day. “Awe” is the concept of experiencing wonder and amazement. Awe frequently conjures up the idea of something “big” like snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef or seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris. However, researchers are finding that if we take time to notice, small pleasurable moments every day, we can reap the same benefits. Awe moments can be found in seeing a beautiful sky filled with fluffy white clouds or watching a bird in flight. We can also experience awe in noticing nature as we walk in the woods or watching a fire burning in your fireplace. Take the time to notice things around you that you may have taken for granted. Be fully present in the moment and awe will appear. By relishing awe and these special moments you can derive more meaning from your life, feel more connected to the world around you, and experience more joy in each day.
Tips for helping others find joy: The following ideas can help others experience joy. Since helping others is of the best ways to feel happier and healthier yourself, when they feel joy, you will, too.
- Send letters, drawings, notes, etc. First responders, essential workers, military personnel, or elderly people are often greatly affected by the stressors we are currently experiencing. By sending them notes, letters, drawings, etc. you are bringing a sense of comfort and joy to others and receiving a feeling of fulfillment for having brought happiness to others. Additionally, it can help shift your attention away from your own day-to-day struggles and the heaviness you may be feeling.
- Start collecting spare change. Start collecting spare change or a small amount of money every day, with the intention of donating it to a charity of your choice. At the end of your designated collection time, write a letter to the charity letting them know what you did, why, and the meaning behind the donation. Saving the money and seeing the fruits of your labor will spark joy that you were able to meet a goal. Additionally, by writing a letter you’ll be able to express your intentions of goodwill. These acts allow us to experience the joy of doing for others.
- Run an errand for a friend. Helping others with even something small can be a big stress reducer right now. They will be so thankful. And from their gratitude, you’ll experience a sense of joy – as will they.
As you can see, experiencing joy, even in light of all the difficulties we are facing at this time, can be achieved by some easy modifications of our day-to-day activities.
Let your joy be in your journey!
Article by Carolyn Moore, PCC, MBA, FACHE