It’s a brand new year, and with a new year comes new goals, plans, and a new energy to take action. A lot can be accomplished with the forward momentum of a new year, but it can also be easy to veer off course and land in a rut with wheels spinning.
That was me. I was spinning my wheels earlier today. I knew it was time for action. I had spent the better part of November and December learning, thinking, planning, and growing into what I wanted to do for 2020 (and yes, there’s some awesome stuff coming).
So the first of January arrived, and I was ready to go. But instead of going, I became stuck in a fog of anxiousness, not sure what to do first. My mind stuck in a loop as I considered what I would be doing for the next month and over the next year.
I have learned from past experience that when I this happens, the best thing to do is to just stop everything. So I took a few hours to go outside and enjoy the gorgeous, warm day we happened to be blessed with on the first day of January.
After some relaxation and contemplation, I realized where I messed up. I was paying so much attention to tomorrow, the next day, next week, next month, ect. I wasn’t actually paying attention to the now. And the now was pretty freaking awesome as I basked in golden sunlight.
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.
Have you ever been here? You look at your desk, and it’s piled high with unfinished projects. You also have a notebook of projects ideas you haven’t even started, but really want to. But the frustration eating at you to complete something doesn’t really give you freedom to tackle… One. More. Thing. *heavy sigh*
That’s how I used to be, until recently. Not that long ago, I realized something. I realized I had other loves other than writing. And that I worked better when I wasn’t solely focused just on writing. Instead of being stuck with one project, and only that project until it was completed, I began to mix things up.
One day, I’d work on book cover art. Another day, I might edit. And maybe a few days, I’d actually sit down to write. Some days, I even managed to do a little of everything. It’s a far cry from the old days.
I remember the days when I would work on my novel Blood Feud for weeks, months at a time, and I would not allow myself to do anything else. If I was writing, that was what I would work on, even if I didn’t feel like it. I eventually finished the book by sheer will alone, but I was exhausted and completely burned myself out of writing for a long time. Getting that book completed and published was not worth the price I paid.
Now, many writers say that’s how you get novels written. You put your butt in the seat, and you write, even if you don’t feel like it. And yes, eventually the faucet does turn on, but it feels like pulling teeth to get there. It’s damn uncomfortable, and for me, not productive considering how much time I spent just trying get myself in the mindset to write.
I have found a better way. It’s by working through inspired action. I don’t act, until I feel inspired to act. In working this way, my productivity has sky rocketed.
“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” ––Babs Hoffman
It’s not always easy to enjoy the journey, especially when the journey appears to be a struggle. How can we enjoy the struggles? Is that even possible?
I have an aversion to struggles. Maybe this is a universal thing. I mean, really, who wants to have conflicts and continual issues in life? So why is it that people talk about enjoying the journey, or just letting the process unfold like it’s some secret joke as they smile and walk away? Will someone please let me in on the punchline?
My family and I recently went through a particularly “fun” struggle from mid -September, until last week. My husband was rear ended in a car accident that left us without reliable transportation for nearly a month. It was a tough time for us. But it also was a bit magical too. Okay, maybe a lot magical.
I had finally decided that I was done with feeling so upset and twisted up by life events. I wanted to ride this struggle with a little more enjoyment. I decided to try out the sage advice of those who would smile and say “enjoy the journey,” because not enjoying the journey was becoming too much drama for me. Why was I torturing myself so much over a freaking car? It was just a car after all.
I won’t say I was perfect. I had moments and whole days where the situation of having no car really got to me. But then I’d catch myself, shake it off, and try to find the things in life that were going very well for us. And I have to say, we do have a whole lot going right, and I don’t think I realized how much until this incident.
So I spent a lot of time basking in the things I was appreciative for. I had whole days that I decided to “pretend” we had no car issue and that all was fantastic. I even imagined our new car in the garage, and us taking it out for a ride as a family. And you know, doing these things really helped me enjoy the struggle more than I ever managed to before. It was a huge step forward for me.
The car incident also had some magical results too. A big one was my husband’s coworkers stepping up to offer him rides to and from work. It was really great to feel that sort of love and support. We also ended up with a much newer and bigger car than what we started out with. And we love it so very much (and yes, we’ve taken the Chevy Equinox out for several family rides since purchasing it).
Another major benefit from all of this is it’s really made me reevaluate how I deal with adversity. I’ve always looked at adversity and struggle as negative. I always felt a desire to avoid such instances at all costs. But maybe the struggles aren’t so terrible? Maybe they help us find clarity and help us understand what we really do want out of life?
Many of us give our power away on a daily basis, and we don’t even realize it. It’s an automatic reflex that chips away at the power we each hold inside of us. After a while, we can feel completely powerless because we’ve allowed so much to be leeched away.
Did you know that you can take that power back? You can feel more energized and happy. You can feel lighthearted and peaceful.
The first step to feeling more powerful of yourself and your life is to recognize who or what you are giving your power to. Anything that steals your time and energy is considered a power stealer.
What’s stealing your power?
People (family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances)
Things (books, tv, phone, computer, ect.)
Situations (this can be anything that makes you feel drained and empty)
Yourself (Your thought patterns and negative emotions)
Notice I put yourself on the list. It actually should be number one, because I believe that is the biggest power stealer of all. How many times have you caught yourself in a downward spiral of negative emotions? Or have you caught yourself giving yourself a bunch of negative self-talk? Be honest. It happens a lot, doesn’t it?
That’s okay, because being aware of bad habits is a good first step to releasing the power stealers so you can move forward in a more confident way.
Step 1: Make a List
So first things first, make a list of all your power stealers (including yourself), and just allow yourself to be an observer of your own life. Don’t judge. Don’t beat yourself up for falling down and letting the power stealer(s) suck you dry. Tomorrow is always a brand new day. A fresh start to try again.
Step 2: Be Patient
That leads me to the second step. Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect to be perfect or to sweep your whole life clean of power stealers overnight (or even in a week or two). It takes dedicated time and effort. Slowly, you will notice a change as you have more energy and creativity in which to do things.
Step 3: Find Balance
The next step is to find balance. What can you do to keep yourself centered and focused on what’s important in your life? Maybe even set up a daily routine that helps you shine. Try doing one or more of the following…