George Bernard Shaw stated, “The joy in life is to be used for a purpose. I want to be used up when I die.” Mother Theresa said, “A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.” Buddha postulated that “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
There are hundreds of quotes about joy from religious leaders, accomplished authors, and philosophers alike. Each sentiment is a different piece of a puzzle that allows us to cobble together a full-bodied definition of the word. The dictionary defines Joy as:
- a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: DELIGHT
b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion: GAIETY
- a state of happiness or felicity : BLISS
- a source or cause of delight
Whether you define joy as delight, good fortune, bliss, happiness, or success, finding joy is something we all have the capacity to do. It’s a skill that gets better with practice, so today, let’s talk about 5 ways that you can foster more joy in your life.
1. Find joy first thing in the morning.
Taking a few moments when you wake up to find things that bring you delight can be a powerful way to shift the trajectory of your day. Notice the beauty in the things around you. Take stock of what you have accomplished. Express gratitude for a friend or family member. Pray. Starting off with a few moments of stillness and reflection can increase optimism, connectedness, gratitude, and hope.
2. Practice finding joy throughout the day! The more you practice finding joy, the better you’ll get at it.
The more you practice finding joy, the better you’ll get at it. It takes time to learn how to seek out joy in everyday moments. Stay open to moments of joy and remember that they can be found in many places; from the taste of your morning tea or coffee to an unexpected compliment from a stranger.
3. Find what makes you happy and do more of it.
- Listen to music that makes you feel good and relaxes your mind.
- Observe something beautiful in nature, like an old tree or a bubbling stream.
- Stretch your body, go for a walk, or do something active that makes your body feel good!
- Chat with an encouraging friend.
4. Consider Joy as a source, and ensure the source is stable.
For some people, Joy might come from God. For others, maybe it comes from being well-connected with friends and family. Maybe someone’s source of joy is knowing that they always put 100% effort into what they do. Whatever the source of your joy is, make sure the source of your joy is constant. Having a solid foundation for joy is the only way to ensure that it will not be ephemeral.
5. Practice gratitude every day to help cultivate an attitude of gratitude in yourself and others around you.
Gratitude is a powerful tool for mental wellness, and practicing gratitude will multiply your joy. Gratitude is not just about saying thank you; it’s about recognizing the abundance in your life, even when it may feel like there isn’t enough. Gratitude helps us focus on the positive aspects of our lives rather than dwelling on negative circumstances or concerns. This mindset shift can transform your outlook on life. (Here is a resource from Therapist Aid that will help you if you’d like to use journaling to practice your gratitude.)