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4 Steps to Create Your Joy List

Jennifer Pastiloff
By Jennifer Pastiloff
mbg Contributor
Jen Pastiloff is known for her unique style of teaching, which she has taught to thousands of women in sold-out workshops all over the world. She has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, Health Magazine, CBS News and more.

“What is a joy list?” you may find yourself saying out loud over your morning coffee and Facebook as you read this.

Well, it's pretty self-explanatory.

It is a list of anything and everything that brings you joy. You add to it every day of your life, if and when possible.

This is a very important thing to do, and you mustn't forget. So, go ahead and put down the coffee, shut the Facebook down, and get a piece of paper. Here’s how to make a Joy List:

Step 1: Ask Questions.

(Ask these questions out loud if possible. Ask them to your dog or the ocean or the sun, but ask them out loud and do not wait for the reply!)

  • What songs make me tap my foot, swing my hips and shake my booty?
  • Who makes me want to be a better person?
  • What type of pizza - although it may burn the roof of my mouth - makes me feel like I am in Naples, Italy even if I am in New Jersey at a hole in the wall in a strip mall?
  • Which words make me want to capture them and put them in a bottle? My own private lightning bug words that will light me up when I forget what light feels like…
  • Which friends have I lost along the way only to discover that they were there all along, stuck in a little cave-like piece of my heart that has a door which sometimes sticks but will open when pried very hard?
  • What books do I want to carry with me as maps no matter how dog-eared and tattered as I roam through adulthood?
  • Which memories make me smile no matter how badly my heart has been shattered? Which memories have the ability like glue to start picking the pieces of my heart off the floor and putting them back like the puzzle they are. Memories of eating pizza with my kids or playing backgammon or drinking whiskey in Paris or rolling down a hill in a white dress or the time you slept in the wrong house… those kinds of memories.

Step 2: Get a paper and write, write, write.

As you write down the joys of your life, start to recreate them. For example, as you write down the gnocchi you ate in Florence, Italy, close your eyes and imagine that gnocchi in Florence, Italy. Imagine the doughy goodness and who sat next to you and across from you and what they were wearing and the waiter's sing-songy voice and the chianti you drank a little too much of.

Be in the feeling.

Notice, you are now smiling. You may also now be hungry and craving gnocchi.

Notice how you feel. Is it joyful?

As you write down the song “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens on your joy list, get up and start singing. When you write down hip hop music, go play some and dance. Get up and dance alone. Or with your dog. Or with your kids. Just dance.

Step 3. Place your list where you can see it often.

Maybe on the fridge. Maybe stick it in your wallet. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you look at it and tattoo it in your mind.

What matters is that you add it to every day and all the time.

What matters is that you keep evolving and growing and adding to the list and remembering all the things that used to bring you joy and all the things that still bring you joy, so you can clearly see exactly what you are made of. Which ingredients. Which pieces of pizza and which songs.

What matters is when you have a bad day or get caught in traffic or get dumped or someone dies that you remember what your potential is. That you remember what is possible.

Step 4. Go live.

Go live your life with abandon and love and pizza and songs and good cups of coffee and yoga and poems and lazy days and dogs and hot sauce and all the things that bring you joy.

Add your Joy List below. Don't hold back!

Jennifer Pastiloff author page.
Jennifer Pastiloff

Jen is a self-described Rule-Breaker, Shame-Buster, BeautyHunter, LipReader, WayMaker, TruthTeller, and Bullshit-Eliminator. She travels the world with her unique workshop “The Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human,” a hybrid of yoga, writing, sharing out loud, and the occasional dance party. She has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, and CBS News among others. She leads annual retreats to Italy and California as well as many other places which combine writing and yoga, sharing out loud and fierce listening. When she is not traveling she is based in Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and soon, her new baby boy. When she is not pregnant you can find her sipping a nice pinot noir. She is deaf as a post and she enjoys laughing at herself, most of the time. You’re most likely to find her these days eating a brownie or on Instagram at @jenpastiloff. She is also the founder of the empowerment project for young women called Girl Power: You Are Enough. Upcoming workshops and retreats in NYC, Dallas, Seattle, Kripalu in Massachusetts, Atlanta, Portland and of course, Italy September of 2016. Email or visit