Last year was a difficult one. In the spring, my husband lost his dad. In the fall, I lost my mom. They were both our last living parent. For the first time in our lives, we became orphans. I wondered if I was too old to feel like one. But for a moment in time, I felt abandoned and a bit vulnerable. Waves of sadness still come and go as I adjust to the new normal without parents. I didn’t want to carry so much emotional weight into the new year. So, I decided I wanted to find ways to have more joy.
So, I began to shift my focus. To revisit what I already knew brought me joy and to discover new ways to add it to my life.
Here are 5 simple ways to have more joy
1. Choose joy
In your life journey, it can be challenging to find joy amidst the trials. Yet, in those moments, you have the power to choose what keeps your attention. I call this process looking for golden nuggets along the path. This past year, I stepped out of my comfort zone and confronted many fears. It was crazy scary! Yet, when I took the time to reflect, I also realized it produced some fantastic results.
Here are my golden nuggets:
Even though fear will never go away, it doesn’t take me out like it used to (victory dance happening here!).
I have fewer thoughts of self-doubt (another huge win!).
I’ve become a better friend to myself instead of my worst enemy (surprising how we can do so much mental damage to ourselves for years without even realizing it!).
I’ve become more comfortable learning something new in front of others (take that, perfectionism!).
When you experience breakthroughs, it produces joy and is noticeable to others.
Joy is a free beauty booster both inside and out. Ladies! Forget the expensive beauty enhancers.
There isn’t a woman out there more beautiful than one who expresses pure joy.
“Joy will shine in your eyes and in your look, in your conversation and in your countenance. You will not be able to hide it because joy overflows.”
— Mother Teresa
2. Find beauty in your surroundings
I have two favorite rooms in my home where I love spending time. They are decorated with some of my favorite colors, textures, and aesthetic design. I like to occasionally tuck myself away in those rooms to simply enjoy my surroundings. They are my happy places.
I also enjoy hiking outdoors. There’s nothing better than filling your lungs with fresh air. Smelling the clean scents of the forest and taking in the amazing sights of nature. My husband and I schedule hiking trips each year to clear our heads from the busyness of life. Being in nature brings us joy.
“ There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”
— John Calvin
Beauty is in the simplest and grandest of places. You have the power to create it in your surroundings or go someplace to find it. The key is to make time to be in your happy places and appreciate the beauty around you. My friend Tammi loves to visit beautiful places, and she takes amazing photographs to capture the moment. I’m in awe of her talent, and it brings me joy when I get to share some of those moments with her. Our favorites are some of the gardens in Southern California.
Need more inspiration?
Here are some ideas to get you started.
in the presence of your loved ones
an art museum
a vegetable garden
overlooking the city lights at night
overlooking an expansive landscape in the day
an organized space
melt-in-your-mouth chocolate (I had to put this in here!)
a sunrise or sunset
a personal collection
a dance or musical performance
Think about what you find beautiful in your surroundings and spend time there. Your joy tank is sure to fill up.
3. Focus on gratitude
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
— Marianne Williamson
Focusing on gratitude helps you experience a more fulfilled and joyful life.
Here’s an impressive list of benefits for people who practice gratitude.
Better physical wellness
Increased exercise (almost 1.5 hours more per week)
More likely to help others
Better sleep quality
A sense of connectedness to others
Less focus on worldly things for satisfaction
Less depressive, envious, and anxious(1).
A helpful way to focus is to spend a few minutes at the end of your day to write down what you are grateful for. When you make it a regular practice, you can retrain your brain to find joy in the most trying of times.
4. For everything there is a season
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: … a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
— Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 (ESV).
I recently attended a friend’s wedding and had never witnessed a more joyous bride and groom. Before they met, they both suffered from past broken relationships. They spent years wondering if love would ever find them again. They dedicated their lives to raising their children as single parents.
When you go through emotional pain and years of waiting for answered prayers, joy becomes that much sweeter when it arrives. The groom’s eyes welled up with tears of joy when he first laid eyes on his beautiful bride. Family and friends got caught up in the bride’s exuberance. We cheered as she owned her moment of walking down the aisle arm-in-arm with her father to the song “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé.
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by
You know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
And I’m feeling good
Every cell in their bodies overflowed with this intoxicating emotion. Their wedding was a culmination of redemption and answered prayer. We all got to share in their joy. It was a WOW moment! Can you feel their joy and excitement? It leads me to the next simple way to have more joy.
5. Be with people who exude joy
“There are souls in this world who have the gift of finding joy everywhere and leaving it behind them when they go.”
— Frederick William Faber
Have you been around someone who exudes joy? It’s contagious! You can’t help but smile and be joyful with them. Spend time with people who fill your joy tank and then share it with others. It can be as easy as a warm smile, a friendly greeting, or a generous hug with someone you love. Linger a bit longer and tell that person what you appreciate about them and how they impact your life.
When you choose joy, it will multiply.
You will experience a profound sense of gratitude.
You will have hope amidst the darker seasons of life.
You will see golden nuggets on your path.
You will be the person who exudes joy and begins to share it.
So, choose joy and be contagious in a positive way!
Emmons, R. E., and McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (84)2, pp. 377-389.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on https://www.sharonkrueger.com
Featured Image by Bee Calder