Even when we’re struggling or down, joy is possible. We can cultivate it and allow it to carry us, like a gentle breeze into our sails, through the ups and downs of life.
Whether you’re reading this at an amazing time in your life, or one of strife – whether our outer world is filled with war, a pandemic, or civil unrest – joy is an essential part of our being. It’s not bad or wrong to allow joy during those times. In fact, it is the very thing that sustains us through them.
Joy enlivens us and gives us hope; it’s the motivation for getting through the difficult times. Especially when we are in pain, we need to tap into moments that uplift us. Sometimes we become so caught up in distress that we forget what joy is. We think that we don’t have time for that right now, or that it’s too hard to try to be joyful. But a few moments of feeling joyous and alive can give you the energy and motivation you need to take action in the world.
It’s possible to cultivate the feeling of joy intentionally, even if just for a few minutes a day. And so worthwhile – joy and happiness can bolster your immune system, increase mental productivity, and of course, elevate your mood and open you to possibility. It actually can change your brain.
Don’t expect it to be over-the-top elation: just look to improve your mood and enjoyment of this moment through a shift of attention. Here are things that can actually shift the brain and body into a more joyful state:
* Visualize and feel, in detail, a past time that brought you joy for 5-10 minutes (even 30 seconds can change the brain!)
* Do an activity you used to enjoy, even as a child (coloring, shooting a basketball, drawing with sidewalk chalk – what was it for you?)
* Be completely silly for 5-10 minutes, preferably in front of a mirror. Laughter brings joy. Doing it with someone else, even online, increases impact!
* Practice gratitude; look around, listen, feel what is beautiful and you appreciate
* Go outdoors and deeply connect to a plant, tree, or animal by spending time being present with them
* Read about, watch, or notice when someone does something loving or kind (including your own kind acts!)
* Hold a smile for a couple minutes, and practice smiling for no reason
Then, you can share some of your joy with others, in a big or small way. That is how we make a difference in the world.
Joy is like wind, that carries a sailboat forward with more ease. Allow a bit of that happiness to fill your sails, moving you through your sacred life journey.
Share with me here a moment of joy you had, or a way that you touched someone else with joy. 💜
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