When was the last time you laughed? Really, belly-laughed?
When was the last time you reflected on what gives you joy? Bliss? Happiness?
With the world being in turmoil, which has been particularly amplified in the past couple of years – pandemic, systemic racism, wars, conflicts, extreme political divide and polarisation, climate crisis, global mental health crisis – many of us have struggled to finding everyday moments of joy and happiness. In fact, University of Chicago survey conducted in 2020, found that happiness levels among Americans have fallen to a five-decade low.
The feelings of Joy and Happiness are perception-based outcomes or the way we feel within ourselves. Which brings us to the good news – this can be shifted by reframing how we experience a situation. Yet, this is not something that just “happens” at the snap of the fingers. This is a muscle and practice that requires effort.
So, the question is, would you like to feel more fulfilled, joyful and improve your mental wellbeing?
Here are five simple ways for finding more joy in your everyday life, starting today.
Start a conversation.
The impact of the pandemic on our social lives has been detrimental. While you have found new routines, habits and ways of connecting, know that we are social creatures, profoundly impacted by the presence and influence of the people around us. Social interaction increases our positive emotions, regardless of whether you’re introverted or extroverted, so perhaps a wine or board game evening with your friends is well overdue?
Stop comparing your life to others.
As life coach and Fix My Life host Iyanla once said, "Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self."
While quitting social media altogether doesn’t sound realistic in today’s day and age, what you can do is revamp your social media settings to only see posts from a select group of people. Stay alert to what kind of profiles, people and influencers that are insidious to your self-esteem. Read: Delete – Block – Repeat.
Visit your best friend – nature!
It is the world’s worst kept secret that nature is one of the best remedies to reduce stress, clear your mind and improve mental wellbeing. Whether these are short walks or simply sitting outside, take it in. Raise your eyes, remove your headphones and just take a moment to absorb one big hug from the nature. It is always happy to see you!
Make a joy list.
What brings you joy? A simple enough question, right, but when was the last time you really took the time to reflect on it? Think about the times when you were joyful. What about the situation made you happy? Who were you with? What were you doing? What can you do to experience such joy again?
Get yourself a nice journal, one that will tempt you pick it up regularly (find my favourite in the resources) and dot these and any other everyday moment of joy down. This will help you build a muscle of awareness of how joy shows up in your everyday, and you can consciously cultivate more of those moments.
Exercise your way to happiness.
In 2018, a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that people who worked out for as little as 10 minutes per week tended to be more cheerful than those who didn’t exercise. Both aerobic exercise and stretching/balancing exercise were effective in improving happiness, demonstrating a positive relationship between physical activity and happiness.
We often let everyday ‘little joys’ like drinking coffee, inhaling the fresh morning air or listening to the birds sing outside our window, pass without acknowledging them. We are often searching and striving for the big moments of joy and happiness. However, if you want happiness and joy to be your equilibrium state rather than simply feelings you experience now and then, you must learn to savour joyful moments, both big and small! Start today!
Oprah shares entries in her Gratitude Journal from 1997
Beautiful gratitude journals (that all my friends got for last Christmas)
*Originally published in SOCIALight Magazine Conscious Growth column Issue 19. Link