In times of overwhelm, finding joy may feel like life’s best kept secret.
Or maybe even a chore. Perhaps you don’t notice joy is missing until life feels too stressful, and, well, joyless.
When a life crisis hits or a string of bad luck ensues, it’s normal to think, “I don’t have time for relaxing, sparking joy, or slowing down.” It can be tough to find joy when life keeps throwing curveballs (ahem, 2020).
But alas, that’s when it’s pertinent you set aside time for finding joy.
Plus, joy benefits your overall life by:
- Raising your mood
- Supporting longevity
- Boosting your immunity
- Promotes a healthier lifestyle
In this post, you’ll find nine simple ways to seek joy and bring it into your life during the roughest of times. Here’s how:
1. Skip the Comparison Game
Comparison will always be the thief of joy. When you start comparing your life to others, it immediately puts you into a scarcity mindset and sometimes even an envious mindset. Spending time looking at what you don’t have only serves as a time waster and a joy thief.
If you’re feeling caught up in comparison — this is especially easy to do with today’s social media — consider how it’s bringing benefit to your life. If there’s not a quick answer that comes to mind, it’s probably a joy sucker. Bring awareness to moments of comparison and then stop it by reflecting on what you’re thankful for in your life instead.
“Just follow your joy. Always. I think that if you do that, life will take you on the course that it’s meant to take you.”
2. Enjoy the Small Things
Sometimes it’s important to remember that the small things are everything. In an era of doing everything at warp speed, we often skip right over truly savoring moments that are pleasurable.
Enjoying the “small things” include:
- Seeing a child smile
- Reading a good book
- Walking with your dog
- Experiencing alone time
- Enjoying your morning cup of coffee
When you take the time to savor these experiences, the practice itself can lead you to feel happier and more welcoming of joyful moments — no matter how big or small — more easily.
3. Start a Conversation
As social beings, it’s important for us to connect with others. Social connection has been an essential part of healthy living since the dawn of time. Experts agree that social interaction has an impact on people’s positive emotions, too. Whether you’ve kept away from people because of the pandemic or have kept yourself overbooked and overworked, make time for conversation.
One Harvard study started during the Great Depression found community and connection kept people happier and living longer.
Any day of the week is a good time to connect with others. You can chat with friends and loved ones over the phone, by video calls, during socially-distanced backyard events, and more. Even a short chat with someone in line at the store may be enough to lift your mood and theirs.
“If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal at any moment.”
Breakaway from stress temporarily by playing intentionally. Whatever that looks like to you, make time for it when you feel your to-do list swelling or your tension headache tightening.
Easy ways to “play” as an adult:
- Play with the kids - Get on your child’s level and play on the floor. Try to take on a child-like mentality of being carefree and enjoying the moment.
- Love puzzles? - Keep a small puzzle like a Rubik’s cube or small metal puzzles on your desk. Solve away your stress!
- Squeeze stress dough - Keep stress dough on your desk. Squeeze when needed to relieve tension. Build little sculptures and play like you would with regular playdough.
There’s a reason kids always look so happy when playing; they’re being carefree and enjoying the moment without worry.
5. Create a Joy List
When was the last time you took a pause to think about all the things in your life that bring you joy? Whether it’s activities, people, pets, or another joy-bringing object, reflect on it often. Take a moment and write a list of any and everything that brings you joy. That list may include anything as simple as seeing a sunrise or as deep as being thankful for a supportive spouse. If you want, keep it on your phone in a note to look over when you’re having a bad day and need a little joy lift.
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
6. Spread Kindness
Acts of kindness don’t need to be elaborate to bring you or others joy. In fact, the less you have to think about it, the more it becomes a habit and infuses joy into your daily life.
Bring joy to yourself and others by:
- Emailing a compliment to a coworker
- Running an errand for a single parent
- Sharing a self-help book you enjoyed
- Dropping off groceries to a quarantined friend
Additionally, research backs up that spreading kindness does you good, too. One 2005 study found individuals were happier when they performed a variety of kind acts. Mix it up and you’ll find varying levels of joy along the way!
Need some more ideas on how to spread kindness? Check out our list of 20 World Kindness Day Activities to Try at Work and Home any time you want to feel a little more joy!
7. Spend Time With Nature
When you get outside, you may find stress levels reduce right along with your anxiety. Additionally, quiet time in the great outdoors can induce a reflective mood. Research shows a 90-minute walk outdoors reduces the activity in the brain that focuses on negative thinking.
Can’t get out into nature due to inclement weather or other reasons? Bring nature to you. Studies show that even the sounds of nature or viewing nature (think natural landscape wallpapers for your phone or computer or even an indoor plant) can bring feelings of joy.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
― John Keats, Endymion: A Poetic Romance
8. Let Go of the Negative
How do you feel after receiving bad news or negative feedback? Probably not so great, right? Negativity has a way of going on a loop in the brain and instantly stealing joy. You can make a conscious decision to let go of negativity, though.
Let the joy in by:
- Being intentional - Decide to let go of the negative thought, feeling, etc.
- Write it down - If it helps, write down the negative emotion and then crumble up the paper and toss it out.
- Get it out - If writing it and tossing it out isn’t enough, consider talking it over with a trusted person who will just listen.
- Train for the positive - When possible, see how you can turn a negative into a positive. When everything seems to be going wrong (like it has in 2020), consider anything positive that has also come out of it. Put it into practice and it will get easier as you go along.
Look at this as an opportunity for growth or a new challenge to look for the positive in every day — even if it’s just one thing!
9. Wear Your Favorite Items
When you put on your favorite sweater, necklace, perfume, etc., it probably puts a smile on your face. At the very least, you feel an inkling of joy and maybe even sigh as you put your favorite cozy pullover on.
There’s something about wearing special pieces that can turn your day around. If you’re ever in a slump — and maybe you’ve become accustomed to too many work-from-home yoga pants days — consider what you’re wearing. When you dress up in clothes that make you feel good or spritz a favorite scent onto your skin that evokes a special memory, it sparks joy.
Don’t save that dress, shirt, or anything else for a “special occasion.”
Instead, make that occasion today.
“I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Where Will You Find Joy Today?
Now that you have an idea of where and how to find joy, make it your new mission.
How will you uncover joy in each and every day?
Even if you have to start small by just starting with a smile — whether to yourself or others — that’s a step in the right direction. Give the other above activities a try at least once, too.
Keep it simple. It doesn’t need to be over-the-top. Most of all, keep in mind that you don’t have to “wait” for a certain experience, moment, or person to bring you joy. You can create your own joy whenever — and however — you wish.
When you practice experiencing joy daily, it may eventually become second-nature and help you enhance your overall emotional state — day in and day out.
Sometimes your team just needs a little uplifting reminder. Want some more inspiring content to share? Check out our list of 27 Positive Thinking Quotes Your Employees Need to Hear.