This post probably contains affiliate links! That means if you click a link and purchase the product, I will get a tiny bit of compensation with no extra cost to you. If you want to dig deep into the legal stuff, check out our disclaimer here.
Joy. Perhaps my favourite emotion to experience. Not over-the-top elation; joy is more simple than that. This three-letter word packs a big punch, though, so today we are exploring ways to build more joy into your life.
Life can get busy and overwhelming, and it is easy to get caught up in unhappiness, stress, and worry. Joy is the opposite of all of those things, and we all need a reminder once in a while.
My word for 2020 is Choose. It is my reminder that I am in control of my life, that I can decide my path, and to be intentional with all things. This list is a tool to help me (and you) choose JOY.
Joy – the feeling of great happiness or pleasure – doesn’t just happen. Or it may occur, and you don’t even notice it. So the first tip is to be intentional, cultivating experiences and aligning your choices to build more of these joyful moments into your day. Happiness, on purpose.
Not only do you need to plan for joy, but you also have to take note of it while it’s happening. Savour the moments that your heart feels full. Notice what it feels like while it is happening. I hate to think of how many sunsets or car sing-alongs or warm cups of coffee I consumed without actually noticing how happy these moments made me.
A daily gratitude practice is a perfect place to find more joy in your life. Every single day I write down five things that I am grateful for from the previous day. Not huge, elaborate things. But simple moments – my morning snuggle with Dex, Dan brought me my cup of coffee, a great chat with a friend. And the more I write down the specific moments that I am grateful for, the more I notice these sweet moments in my life. Plus, when I need a bit of a joy-boost, I can flip through my journal and read these quick lists whenever I want!
Focus on what is good
In life, you can choose to look at that cup as half empty or half full. If you focus on what is going wrong, joy will be hard to come by. However, when you train yourself to see the good in every situation, even the bad ones, you trigger more opportunities for gratitude and joy in your life.
My example for this – a few years ago, my truck’s computer randomly died. I drove from work to my doctor’s office, with no issues. But, when I came out, it would not start. No clicking, no trying to start. Just silence when I turned the key. I called my dad, and my roadside assistance, had the truck towed, and headed home. It would have been easy to dwell on all the frustrating things in this story.
Instead, I remember feeling so grateful that my awesome dad came to pick me up, that the weather wasn’t freezing, so my wait wasn’t awful, and that I have roadside so I wasn’t paying huge money for the tow. Was it frustrating? You bet. But I didn’t let it ruin my entire weekend or even my day. By focusing on what was good, I was training my brain to be more joyful.
Do what you love
I’m all about living my life with intention. Read all about how to do that here! Bottom line – you get to choose your life, so choose to do things that bring you joy! I’m talking hobbies, like jigsaw puzzles or hiking or snowboarding, and I’m also talking projects that bring you joy, like volunteering or learning about something new or practicing a new skill!
I am so stinking lucky to do work that lights my soul on fire – creating this space for you all and building the tools to support your intentional living and financial journey. The joy that it brings me is immeasurable. Find your purpose by doing work that brings you that kind of happiness.
Spend time with the right people
You know the friends who you can hang out with for hours and still have a million things to tell each other? The ones who care deeply about your life and share their own successes and failures with you? THESE are the people you should spend the most time with.
Obviously, we can’t only spend time with these magic bringers. But we can try to schedule our life around seeing these special humans as often as possible.
Our world is rush-rush-rush. We are in a weird cultural season of busy where we (some of us) wear our to-do lists like a badge, complain about our over-booked schedules, and run ourselves to the point of breakdown. I challenge you to examine your schedule and find a place (or two!) where you can slow down. This is easier said than done – for some tips about being intentional with your time, check out I is for Intention. Build quiet and calm into your life, so that you have more room for joy.
Stop waiting for tomorrow
“When I retire, I will…”
“Next year, I can’t wait to…”
Guess what, friends? Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Stop spending your life waiting for tomorrow, or next year, or when you’re retired. Instead, start building the life that you want TODAY.
And, while we are at it – stop working for the weekend. The number of people who every single Monday morning complain that it’s Monday, or grumble about how long the week is feeling, or ask on Tuesday, “Is it Friday yet?” …this habit makes me crazy!!
I refuse to live my life waiting for the joy of two days a week. Yes, I’d LOVE to be independently wealthy and not have to come to work every day. Yes, I prefer the relaxing days at home more than my days at work. But focusing on the negative is no way to live your life. Waiting for the weekend means that you are spending over SEVENTY PERCENT of your week unhappy. Yikes!
Try to find something every single day that is good.
Plan for it
Joy doesn’t always just happen. You have to choose to build more happiness in your life. I’m not talking lengthy Caribbean cruises. Think simple.
In our home, the week can be a bit crazy. Earlier bedtimes, homework, work schedules – there is always something to get done. But our favourite family tradition is Friday Family Date Night. We have a meal we all enjoy (usually homemade pizza or chicken caesar wraps), and we watch a nature show or a Marvel movie together. Because we plan for this each week, we have something to look forward to!
Getting outside in nature is one of the best ways to de-stress, clear our minds, and feel some real joy. The beauty is unparalleled, and the act of being outside, breathing fresh air and appreciating this amazing planet we live on is sure to fill your heart with joy.
Listen to music
Do you have a Joy Playlist? You should. A series of songs that bring you joy whenever you listen to them. Maybe they remind you of a special moment, or the beat just makes you want to move. Sometimes you need a joy reset, and music is a powerful way to do that!
Check out my JOY Playlist on Spotify!
Do something silly
Sometimes you just have to be a kid again! There’s nothing better than the sheer glee that comes from being silly. Have a dance party in the kitchen, karaoke in the car, or go to the park and PLAY!
Giving back is a beautiful way to spark joy in your heart. Find a cause that is meaningful to you and then schedule some volunteer time into your life.
Taking a few minutes in quiet stillness might feel uncomfortable at first. But the more you practice, the more you can find joy in this practice.
I use the Insight Timer app to guide my meditation practice on most days. If you are looking for a deeper dive into meditation I highly recommend checking out the book Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World.
Watch the sunrise or the sunset
Seriously. This daily gift from Mother Nature should be savoured. Watching the colours in the sky and the reflections on the clouds fills me with gratitude and joy every morning. These moments are easy to miss if you aren’t intentional about enjoying them!
Moving your body triggers your endorphins, which is a fast-track path to joy. A walk, a session at the gym, a bike ride – whatever way you like to move, try to build it into your daily schedule to induce more joy!
Compliment a stranger
Last week, while I was grocery shopping, I noticed a lady wearing the same coat as her two-year-old daughter. They were chatting away as they filled their cart, and I couldn’t help telling her how much I loved their matching coats. The smile that crossed her face was priceless, and I heard her talking to her daughter about their special jackets as they walked away.
Their happiness brought me joy – this is how kindness spreads like ripples in a lake!
Watch your favourite movie
It might not be an oscar-nominated classic or a critic-renowned hit. But most of us have a few go-to movies to watch that always make us smile. I always watch Pitch Perfect for a perfect pick-me-up!
Create joy in your space
When you look around your home or your office, does it fill your heart with happiness? I love to see special memories with my favourite people, so I have lots of pictures on our walls. I also like to see beautiful things, plants, and inspirational quotes, so I intentionally fill my space with such things. Same thing in my classroom. This way, when I’m feeling down and need a joy-boost, I can take a breath and look around my space, and my heart fills with joy.
Find something to look forward to
The things that bring you joy might not be immediate. But find something to look forward to. Maybe a trip in a few months, or coffee with a friend next week. Try to have something in your calendar that sparks some joy in your heart!
Savour the tiny things
Life is made up of a million tiny moments – make sure you don’t miss the joy waiting for BIG moments. Focus on the little things – the smell of a flower, the luxury of clean sheets, the way the sun glistens on the frost first thing in the morning.
Hug it out
The magical hormone – oxytocin – that is responsible for happiness is released when you give and receive a hug. There is some debate over the length of a perfect hug (some studies say 20 seconds is the necessary amount, but that can feel a bit excessive), so just do what feels right for you.
When you have joy, life is sweeter. The more you focus on joy, the more you will have. And, while this post isn’t directly about personal finance, it is about personal growth, which I believe leads to development in all areas, including your bank accounts!
If you liked what you read here we would LOVE it if you would save and share it – spread the joy around to the people you love, or save it for later when you might need a joy-boost of your own!