I’ve been on this journey of self-exploration and self-discovery for a long time (about a decade). I have researched and dug deeply into my “why” and know so much more now who I am and why I am here. I have reduced my stress tremendously and know every day is a new journey where I may falter. Yet, I know now how to cultivate my response when things don’t go as planned/my way/(Fill in the blank).
For me, I used to think I was seeking happiness. I mean, isn’t that the penultimate of life? To be happy? Then I dug even deeper into joy. It felt weird, like it may feel to you. Joy seemed like a tough one. Isn’t joy hard to find in daily life?
Once I’d done “the work,” I found seeking a spirit of joy feels right to me and is a huge component of my fitness, my wellness, my everything, really.
It may be confusing to think about happiness and joy as two different things, but they are.
Happiness is defined as dependent on external circumstances.
Happiness may look like the following:
- Crushing your performance on a meeting
- Getting that new blouse you’ve really wanted on sale
- A first-time big girl push-up
All of these bring serious happiness, yet none gives you that lasting feeling.
Some say happiness is more fleeting. Some experts say happiness is associated with feelings of the senses and an emotional response.
Joy, however, comes from within us. It is an enduring feeling that persists no matter the circumstances. Joy is inside of you. So, tap into it, practice those things that bring it to you every day. Bring it out!
So why would you want to start to cultivate your sense of joy?
1. Joyful people practice gratitude.
We have learned time and time again gratitude calms the brain and, yes, makes us productive and happy. Also, when stressed, your focus on gratitude immediately turns your brain toward positivity and the release of the feel-good chemical, dopamine.
People who practice gratitude experience the following:
- They have less stress, sleep better, have higher self-esteem, and are more optimistic.
- They experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people.
- They have reduced toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret.
- They live longer!
2. Individuals who regularly experience joy – or are “joyful” – tend to feel more abundance in their lives. It is a perfect time of year to focus more on what we DO have and less on what we don’t or what we want.
We also live in a scarcity environment. “I wish I had (fill in the blank).” We crave control and feel like all our efforts – or trappings – are never enough. This is a scarcity mindset that can lead to negative self-talk, a general negative outlook, and lack of motivation for fitness and wellness.
Yep, having an abundant attitude will lead to more body confidence and the motivation to focus on your foundational practices like walking, meal prep, sleep, stress management, and menopause.
Before we even get out of bed in the morning, our “to-do” list festers in our minds. We are in a race against time. Yet with some consideration, we realize when we live each minute knowing we’ll not get it back, we will boost our immune system, lower our blood pressure, and reduce the fat-causing hormone cortisol.
Joyful people see their lives with abundance.
3. Happy people are healthier – and healthier people are happier.
Many studies have found people who are happy are healthier. There was a groundbreaking study a few years ago that showed that a top determinant of death is not what we normally think: heart disease, cancer, and other physical ailments. Nope, it is loneliness. The Centers for Disease Control has documented extensively that social isolation and loneliness increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, and even early death.
One way to combat loneliness: JOY. How can you tap into joy when adversity strikes? Gratitude. Gratitude about simple things like the blue sky, your lungs, your city, etc.
So, now you may be wondering HOW to begin cultivating joy. Here are my top 3 tips:
- Practice daily self-care. This can be a walk around the neighborhood, Epsom salt bath, practicing a skill or hobby you enjoy, or simply just quiet, uninterrupted time to yourself to meditate, journal, or reflect on your day.
- Surround yourself with other joyful people. The people we choose to spend our time with have a huge impact on our well-being. Surround yourself with positive people who bring out the best in you.
- Appreciate the small things. A beautiful sunrise, your morning coffee, a comfortable desk chair. We all have so many little things for which we should be grateful for each day.
Join all of us at Alexandria Wellness and begin this next year cultivating joy! If you are interested in developing a wellness program for you or your team, email me at email@example.com or click here.