I'd estimate that there are about 3,209 tricks and tools that can help you lead a more joyful, loving life. As a bit of a happiness guinea pig, I've tried about 90 percent of them. You could say my toolkit for living from a joyful place is quite extensive, and, given I'm the happiest I've ever been, effective.
For over a decade, I dedicated every spare second of my time to trying out different techniques, tricks, and methods to build a solid foundation of happiness for myself. Of course, there was a reason for this. One day, years ago, I found myself in the hospital. I was thin as a rake with an eating disorder, living with severe depression and debilitating anxiety. It was in that bed that I promised myself never to hit rock bottom again.
And so my journey to become the happiest version of myself began. In learning about happiness, I tried both scientifically proven techniques and ones that are still shrouded in mystery—from hiding crystals in my bra to cognitive behavioral therapy to standing in the sun every day. And while I constantly draw on many of these "happiness ingredients," using a combination of many every day, there is one that remains constant.
If happiness were a cake, this would be the egg that holds everything else together.
You ready? To live joyfully, you must allow yourself to feel pain. You might be scratching your head here, but just bear with me.
Give yourself permission to feel all the feels—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
There is no such thing as a "bad" emotion. Anger, resentment, sadness, frustration, disappointment, fear—while sometimes inconvenient—are there to protect and serve. It's how you respond to and process those feelings that can cause disproportionate problems.
At my worst, I was almost allergic to feeling negative emotions. They scared the heck out of me, so I expertly swept them under the rug. Unfortunately, doing this doesn't get rid of them. It lets the feelings fester and grow rather than pass and fade.
So now, instead, I sit with the emotion and fear, stay present with it, and then let it pass. For me, this practice strips those feelings of their potency and their power to debilitate and take the driver's seat in my life.
There's no one silver bullet to living joyfully. Everyone is different. But give this technique a go. Feeling everything changed my life for the better, and it can change yours, too.