Happiness is a feeling of comfort and contentment. It’s a feeling of rightness and peace. It’s a beautiful thing. But joy… joy is a feeling of excitement and thrill. It’s a combined feeling of freedom, confidence, and absolute pleasure. There is no emotion (that I have yet to experience) bigger than joy. It’s happiness with a kick, and it’s freaking awesome.
I have been working hard to get to a place where happiness, peace, and joy are constant companions of mine. I’m still working on the constant part, but I would have to say these emotions are more with me than not. So for my benefit, and others, I am setting down here some of the key steps I have found to having more joy in my life.
1. Being More Grateful
The number one best way to bring any sort of positivity, happiness, peace, and joy into life is to be more grateful. That is how I started this journey towards more joy years ago, and my gratitude has only grown since. As it did, so did the best parts of my life. I have learned first hand that the more grateful I am, the more I will have to be grateful about. It really is that simple.
2. Being Aware of Your Mood
We cannot change our mood without first being aware of what our mood is in any given situation. So I have taken care to observe how I feel. I don’t judge myself for feeling upset or anger. I just notice what sets me off. What are my triggers, and how can I find ways to move past them or release them? I also pay attention to what makes me feel good. There’s a lot of power in just observing and being aware. A situation can’t change unless we are first aware of it.
3. Being Aware of What You Give Your Attention To
After becoming more aware of my mood, I then began to notice more specifics about what I was giving my attention to. I started to see distinct situations, people, and even thoughts that were dragging me down. It took time to identify everything, but the more attention I paid to my mood, the more aware I became of where my attention was going, and I started to cut back or completely cut out anything and everything that could be a potential joy stealer.
4. Letting Go of Conditions
Another huge road block to feeling more content and joy in life is putting out conditions. I tend to do this a lot, especially subconsciously. Any of theses sound familiar?
- I feel I need a certain amount of money in the bank before feeling secure and prosperous.
- I feel I need my surrounding environment to be a certain way before I feel capable of writing (or doing anything requiring concentration or effort).
- I feel I need a certain number of friends before I feel content with my social life.
- I feel I need a brand new car to travel long distances.
- I feel I need a Masters degree before I feel intelligent enough and confident enough to do work in a field I am very interested in.
These are just some examples, but I’m sure you get the idea. Why is it that we need anything to feel good? I bet if we take a good look around, we will see we really do have everything we need in that exact moment. If we don’t, I can pretty much guarantee that feeling bad or upset about not having something isn’t going to magically make that thing appear. So why not feel good, or as good as you can, and let the conditions go. Life’s too short to carry that burdensome load!
5. Making It a Priority to Feel Good
This might sound like an easy one, but it takes intention and effort to make this happen. Just because we did the work to take out the bad feeling stuff, doesn’t mean it won’t show back up on our doorstep. And let’s face it, bad habits do have a tendency to die hard.
One of the things I do every morning is to make feeling good a top priority for that day. When I set that intention, it becomes easier for me to say no to adding more burdens and obligations into my life that have the potential to suck away all the good feelings. I’ve been getting good at saying no!
6. Focusing Only on The Things You Love Doing
In a world full of obligations and responsibility can we really solely focus on only the things we love to do? With practice, yes. This isn’t something that can be accomplished overnight. But with careful thought, effort, and a deep caring of how we feel, it can be done.
Over a period of time, I have reduced or eliminated large amounts of things, people, situations, or thought patterns that don’t fall into the category of love. If I don’t love it, I don’t give attention to it. And doing this has created a major shift in my life where more happiness, peace, and joy now fill the places the bad feelings used to take up.
7. Getting Excited About Things
This step is a great way to either start or keep up the momentum of the good feelings. I have actively searched and looked for things that make me excited, because isn’t it fun to be exited! Here are some questions I ask myself to help generate more excitement in my life…
- What gives me a thrill just thinking about it?
- How can I make a game out of a situation I’m obligated to do, but don’t really feel great about doing?
- What can I do to bring more fun into my life?
- How can I be more spontaneous?
- If I could do anything, go anywhere at anytime, what would I do? Where would I go?
8. Doing More Daydreaming
I like that last question in step 7. If I could do anything, go anywhere at anytime, what would I do? Where would I go? It gets the wheels turning in my head, and I spend time daydreaming about those things. I’m not talking about getting stuck on wanting this or that, I’m talking about opening up to all the possibilities.
We aren’t meant to live static lives. We are meant to live, to grow, to become more. What we become and what we do is entirely up to us. So that’s why I think daydreaming is important. It gives us all the opportunity to expand our minds and often can leave us feeling good and excited about what might be just around the corner!
9. Taking More Inspired Action
This is a little different from doing what we love. It’s a little more specific.
Have you ever come up with a super cool, fantastic idea that made you jump up and down with glee? You’re so excited you absolutely have to sit down and get it done right then. And bam! What might have taken weeks, you managed to do in one afternoon.
Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.
There’s nothing better than working through inspired action. It those kind of ideas that helps us rise to the top, and most importantly, they feel good, real good.
10. Becoming Close Friends With Practice and Patience
In a society that’s becoming more and more accustomed to instant gratification, the idea of waiting for something doesn’t come as easily as it used to. There’s nothing wrong with getting something now, but some of the best things in life come with time. Having more joy in our lives is one of those things. It’s the waiting for it that makes it that much sweeter when we find it.
Look at the pursuit of joy as a series of stepping stones. First find contentment, then happiness, then peace, and then joy will naturally follow. It might even surprise you when and where you find it. At first these feelings may come every once in awhile, but the more you apply these ten steps, the more it will become a common occurrence.
I was once of the mind that life was supposed to be hard. It’s not. It was never supposed to be hard, but it’s what we were taught to believe. Life can be awesome. It can be a feeling good, awesome, fantastic experience. It won’t get that way overnight though. It takes some dedication and time, but patience and practice will make it a way of life.
Just take one day at a time, and aim to feel good from moment to moment. And one day the joy will show up, and you’ll wonder how you managed to ever live life without it.