I recently asked a friend what she would want more of in her life, and to my surprise, she answered joy. My friend genuinely expressed that having more joy in her life would allow her to be a better mother and wife. So it got me thinking about what we could do to cultivate (from within) the feeling of joy. Here are the top five actions you can incorporate today to increase your own feelings of joy.
Exercise not only increases endorphins, it also is great for building self-belief. Athletic achievement is a tangible way to see your capabilities. If you lift weights, after some time you can lift heavier loads; if you run, after some time you can run further and faster; if you climb, after some time you can climb higher. It is like this with every physical endeavor. You build up strength, you are able to achieve more, and that feeling of achievement brings joy. The best part is that any activity will work – walking, dancing, swimming, yoga, or even Tai Chi.
2. Develop a spiritual practice
A spiritual practice can be found in a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple. It can also be found in the comfort of your own home. Sitting in silence is a great way to quiet your mind and connect to your environment. It allows you to feel the energy of your surroundings. Formally known as meditation, it cultivates many positive aspects including a feeling of increased sense of joy. Praying for others, whether with formal prayers or your own words, can also bring you joy. You don’t even need to tell the other that you are doing it. Studies on prayer have shown it increases wellbeing of the person prayed for as well as those doing the praying. Praying in general decreases anxiety and brings forth feelings of peace.
3. Be of service
It is a well-known fact that doing things for others increases our own joy. Hence the saying, “it is better to give than to receive”. Scientific research has backed this up. Whether you volunteer for a cause or organization, or simply perform random acts of kindness for your family, friends, or neighbors, being of service to others brings feelings of joy to your own life. It doesn’t matter if you are recognized for the service or if it is done anonymously. It is the act of service itself that promotes feelings of wellbeing and increases joy.
4. Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is important and no one else can do it quite like you. Starting with personal hygiene, taking care of yourself shows that you matter. If you let yourself feel rundown, you can almost feel the joy seeping out of you as well. Indeed the absence of joy, can decrease immunity, making you vulnerable to illness. Healthy meals prepared with love, using the freshest and highest quality ingredients you can afford are another way of taking care of yourself. Paying attention to the meal you’ve created is another way of honoring yourself. Enjoying a delicious meal always brings comfort and joy.
5. Do what is fun for you
Do the things you find pleasure in. This may seem like a simple and obvious concept, but so many people get wrapped up in doing things others think are fun, they lose sight of what’s fun for them. Try new things, but also rediscover things you used to love. Let your heart lead whether you think you are good at something or not. For example, learning a new language or taking a cooking class. You may not be good at what you enjoy, but the important thing is to find pleasure in it, not necessarily to be successful at it. Sparking the flames of creativity brings immeasurable joy.
Act “as if” you have great joy in your life and it will multiply. This is the law of attraction. That which you focus on, you bring more of into your life. Focus on joy and watch it permeate all areas of your life, fore even the most difficult of situations has something to teach us, and expanding ourselves through learning is one way to cultivate joy.