“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad.”
Who can forget Rodgers and Hammerstein’s iconic lyrics from the musical, The Sound of Music? As they came to mind on a recent morning walk (a favorite thing, for sure!), I thought: “Why wait until ‘the dog bites’ or ‘the bee stings’? Why not seek out our favorite things and consciously reach for them every day? Isn’t that how we create more joy right now, right where we are?
While stepping away from full-time work and easing into a more relaxed rhythm, I am challenging myself to become my own “Joy-Meister.” Trust me, it’s not like waving a magic wand. It requires self-observation, habit-changing, and experimentation. But the payoff? Now that’s the prize!
Eight Steps You Can Take to Bring More Joy to Your Every Day:
- Practice noticing and reflecting on what makes you feel good; feel happy throughout the day. Pay attention to the small things. Sitting on my veranda and watching the birds’ antics is a serious joy-maker for me. Write down at least one joy-maker each day for an entire month. Then consciously seek these out on a regular basis. And on the flip side…
- Notice what you are tired of. Start to identify the habits and activities that no longer bring you joy. Maybe an activity has reached its “joy-expiration” date and is now a bit boring. Because we tend to repeat behaviors even when we have outgrown them, be sure to look closely.
- Experiment with something new. Switch things up. I’ve started to follow along on You Tube Pilates videos and found that doing so brings me joy along with greater physical flexibility! A small win for me!
- Focus on the end result of a tiresome task. Whether it’s paying the bills or cleaning the bathroom, we all have tasks we’d rather avoid. By focusing on the ultimate result, you temper the burdensome part by envisioning the satisfaction and positive feelings you will experience when you’re finished.
- Shower the people you love with love. Undeniably, a huge contributor to happiness is the quality of our relationships. When you tend to them in small, consistent ways, you deepen your bond with others. I love the fact that my dear, Massachusetts-based friend Lynda and I have a standing Saturday afternoon catch-up call where we never know what will happen or who will say what. Our distance has brought us closer. Go figure….
- Practice gratitude. Being thankful for the good things in your life is the gift that keeps on giving, because gratitude changes your brain in positive ways. When I hit the mattress each night, my first expression of gratitude is a shoutout to the comfortable bed that welcomes me. From there, I give thanks for five things that brought me joy that day.
- Be kind to others. Every interaction is an opportunity to demonstrate kindness. Every single one. When you are kind, the pleasure and reward centers in your brain light up, increasing your feeling of satisfaction and well-being. And, on the receiving end, you never know how much positive good your kindness can bring to another.
- Have an open mind and an open heart. Remind yourself that you do not walk in your sister’s shoes. There are always more than one way to think, feel, and perceive. Strive for less judgment and more acceptance. Your heart will be lighter.