Joy is an emotion, and emotions are wordless. They're pure physical sensations in our bodies. We express the emotion of joy in many physical ways. For example, we jump for joy when we win a hard-fought competition, or we double over in uncontrollable laughter when someone relates a hilarious story. We squeal with delight after getting a surprise gift, and whoop and holler exuberantly when we hear fantastic news. We feel buoyant and jubilant on beautiful day.
When we feel joy, we feel great about ourselves. We feel confident, powerful, capable, lovable and fulfilled. These are all good reasons to experience more joy in our life. Here are seven ways to do it.
1. Undertake a challenging activity with a commitment to mastering it.
Think of a project you've wanted to accomplish, whether it's creating a small flower garden in your yard, learning how to give your car a tuneup, or mastering the tango. The process of setting a goal, learning the necessary steps to achieve it, and giving it your best until you've mastered it will generate high self-esteem and pride. Those are feelings associated with joy.
2. Actively seek joy through inspiration.
Another way to get more joy into our lives is to find it through activities that stretch our perceptions and take us out of ordinary day-to-day life. Engaging in meditation and prayer are two obvious ways to produce a feeling of well-being, serenity, and joy. Being alone in nature is another way to feel the joy of beauty — and oneness with a greater whole.
3. Engage in an activity that's pleasurable and feels like play.
Do an uplifting and enjoyable activity that's not goal-oriented, but just plain fun. A few examples include throwing a Frisbee with your dog, dancing, hiking, looking at beautiful art, enjoying a concert, or making love. Play and other activities that don't have a purpose other than helping us feel relaxed and happy keep our mind focused in the present. The present is where joy lives.
4. Deal with the sadness that blocks joy.
When we feel sad, joy it isn't possible to also feel bubbly and exhilarated. In a place that feels safe and private, constructively express your sadness by allowing yourself to cry. While crying, acknowledge your hurts and losses. Don't indulge any negative thoughts about yourself. Just keep telling yourself, "I'm fine. It's okay to cry. I just feel sad." You'll immediately feel washed clean — even joyful.
5. Honor yourself consciously and frequently.
Joy doesn't come from others; it comes from within. Interrupt negative thoughts about yourself and replace them with statements that honor yourself, such as, "I'm fine the way I am. I'm whole and complete. I did my best. I can do this. I love myself. What I'm seeking is within me." Also, focus on the good and what you did well. Write down self-appreciations so you can read and say them frequently. The more you reinforce these concepts, the more they'll become reality.
6. Give yourself a break from the day-to-day world.
Nurture yourself. Set up a time, just for you, when you can disconnect from daily responsibilities and get away from the noise, stimulation, and demands of your world. Joy comes easily when we focus on our own needs in a caring and loving way. Get a massage. Close the door, put your feet up, and watch the world outside your window. Take a nap. These kinds of activities replenish us and give our body and soul a chance to feel pure joy. Remind yourself: My job is to take care of myself.
7. Say the word often and contemplate its meaning.
Repeating and contemplating the word joy can actually create that emotion. Say it over and over, varying the speed, tone, and tempo until you laugh. Notice how your body feels when you say the word. Did your chest expand? Did your face relax? Think about what joy means to you. Be as specific as possible, imagining the feeling of joy, the images it conjures up, perhaps even the people and situations who trigger joy. Sign off your emails with the word joy. Paint the word on a smooth rock and keep it on your desk. More joy will rise up if you simply invite it to do so.
Want to find out more about the attitudes and emotions that dominate your character? Take a quick self-quiz here, and then try the coping strategies designed to address them.