Would you like to (re)experience joy as if you're a carefree child at play? You know, the kind of joy that’s in the moment without any judgments, “shoulds,” “shouldn’ts,” putting other things first, or thinking of everything else instead of what’s in front of you? If the answer is yes, maybe, or even if you’re curious, then let's find out how to do it.
A Joyful Treasure Trove
Joy is important to our mental and physical health, even though we think we can put it on the back burner until life’s challenges allow us a “breather,” which may never come or not soon enough. Joy helps us feel and perform better. It triggers the release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which give us the warmth of love and the sense of wellbeing. Physiologically, they also boost our energy and immune system, promote digestion and cardiac function, elevate our mood, and increase our longevity. So, joy isn’t just a “nice to have,” but a “priority” for and “treasure trove” of health!
The Stories We Believe
All sentient beings have three basic needs: Safety, Love, and Belonging/Dignity. Joy is part of all of them. Unfortunately, life’s challenges obscure our natural birthright to joy until we feel as if we’re in a constricted space suit with limited oxygen, suffocating and cutting us off. The beliefs we acquire about joy begin in childhood and are input into us by our ancestors, parents, educators, society, and culture. They tell us what to think about ourselves and the world around us, including joy. We then create stories about experiencing joy that aren’t necessarily true, such as “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t deserve,” “I can’t enjoy while others suffer,” etc. One part of us may want more joy in our lives, but another part says, “not now,” “I don’t have time,” and so on. This latter part of us is a protection mechanism to meet our needs, although somewhat misguided. For example, my story formed as a child when I was told “children should be seen but not heard.” I interpreted this message as, “others’ needs are more important than mine,” so I worked harder to be perfect, seen, and loved. Joy just wasn’t a priority in this story.
4 Strategies to Cultivate Joy
How do we change our thinking, habits and stories to experience more of the benefits of joy? Here’s some suggestions:
Identify Your Stories – Recognition is the first step to changing old stories. What stories do you tell that inhibit you from experiencing pure joy? Then ask yourself, “Is it really true?” “Who would I be and how would I experience life without these stories?” “What would I have to let go of to let more joy into my life?”
Practice Self-Compassion – Soften the voice of the negative inner critic that judges you and others harshly by being kinder to the parts of you that created these stories. They were just trying to protect you. Befriending the inner critic helps loosen its bonds and the incessant comparison to others.
Allow Self-Care – You are your first priority! This isn’t selfish but essential to your health and wellbeing. You can then be a better version of you for yourself and others. So, pick one thing that you really enjoy and do it regularly. Perhaps take a nature walk, meditate, journal, dance, sing, read, drink a cup of your favorite tea, play with your pet, or do whatever makes you happy. The key is consistency. Reprioritize and make the time, even if it’s just for 5 minutes in the morning or before bed.
Seek Connection - No person is an island. We all need friendship, connection, and community to get our basic needs met. Seek out and surround yourself with people who nurture you. One way is to join our private FB Group, "3 Minute Mindful Circle," of empowered women supporting each other to live our authentic selves.
Sometimes we also need a “river guide” to help us stay on course with these strategies. That’s what a life coach does - helps you get across the river with tools and practices for consistent, lasting results. So, find a life coach that resonates with you and sail into a more joyful life inside and out! Book a Complimentary Clarity Call with me if you'd like to find out more.