Cultivating Joy part 2: Personal Habits

Last week we covered the main difference between happiness and joy. As a super light recap, happiness is something that we chase and is fleeting (cannot hold on to), while joy emerges through the process of a life well-lived (sustainable). This week we will dive into the habits shown to provide the best chance to live a fulfilled and joyous life.

Note that these bullet points are not listed in any order of significance. As you read, you may see that you already do some of these while others may seem a bit foreign…that’s ok. To plant the seeds of a joyous life, you do not need to master all of these. Usually, if you are progressing on a few, the benefits will show. 

  • Work towards a dream, vision, or a goal. Why do you wake in the morning? When you add up all of your actions throughout the day, where is it taking you? When we have a vision for our life, we have a star to guide us. Also, we can have many different goals (big and small) or destinations along the way. Those tethered to a goal/dream experience less depression and anxiety as they walk with purpose. 

I can personally attest to this. Before following my dream, my life was a grind. My pursuits, while fun, often left me hollow when achieved. Take time to build goals to aim towards. Doing this will breathe oxygen into your life.

  • Move! I could have stated exercise here, but that word tends to come with much extra baggage (routines, club memberships, pain…). Just get up and move more than you did yesterday. Moving the body immediately changes the chemistry of the mind and kicks off all of your happy chemicals. If you can, move OUTSIDE. Nature entices all of our senses and heals the mind. Go outside and smell the fresh air, hear the sounds, feel the earth under your feet. 

My personal favorite is walking. This form of exercise all of us can do. We are designed to do it, and it is magic to clear the mind of all of the unnecessary thoughts that have clogged our day.

  • Create healthy relationships by expressing gratitude often. I am sure you have heard of adopting an attitude of gratitude. Well, this really works. Gratitude puts things in perspective (what matters), and when shared with others, it strengthens relationships. We so often walk through life, thankless. I challenge you to express more gratitude each day. You will be amazed at how it changes your mindset to joy and will provide joy to others. Learn to praise and thank the ordinary (Ex. The barista provides your favorite latte perfect everyday…tell them how awesome it is). Often it is what we take for granted that needs the boost of gratitude.

On the flip side, if you have some unhealthy relationships, learn to place boundaries around them. I tend to struggle with this one. I often put too much energy into winning another person who has no desire to change or meet me halfway.  Remember: attitudes are contagious. Carry gratitude at all times and walk away from those are discordant. 

  • Maintain a positive attitude when things don’t go well. Sometimes we don’t win the game or achieve what we set out to do. This is ok, and all we need to do is keep a healthy perspective to move on. It is best to understand that winning and losing are only mindsets. Having a better attitude in any situation will create a win even when the chips are down. Either we are winning, or we are learning. Cherish our wins with gratitude and seek out the silver lining when we don’t come out on top. 
  • Be of service to others! Magic happens when you give your time, money, and attention to another. Volunteering is a wonderful way to be of service, just like moving (listed above), taking time to service to others wards off depression. Moreover, adopt a service mindset. What I mean by this is when you look at your life as a life of service (who can I help now?), we drop the habitual attitude of narcissism. Life becomes fulfilling when we look at our lives as a part of a whole instead of the vacuum of me, me, me, attitude.
  • Take full responsibility for your life and don’t take things personally. This point, I can write another post on (and most likely will). There are no victims in life. Everything that we have decided and chosen to do has brought us to this moment…and brought the results that we are experiencing now. Take ownership of your past, present, and future. Even if you believe in victimhood, it is better to adopt an ownership attitude. Taking full responsibility gives you control and places you in the driver’s seat. Own your life and drive it to the destination you have defined above (Vision, Dreams, Goals).

Taking on this attitude helped me pull myself out of a serious depression about twenty years ago. I cannot stress this point enough and the power it will give you. Ownership clears out all of the self-defeating excuses. It also makes the journey more rewarding as your life unfolds. Certainly, we cannot control the world and how it interacts with us, but we can own how we move and take action (or reaction) from now on.

Hopefully, you have found a couple of habits to work on here. These are tried and true in my life. The results of these habits have spoken for themselves in my day today. Not every day is perfect, but I find myself with a sunny disposition more often than not! 

Next week we will elevate these concepts to parenting and the home environment. Stay tuned….

Be well

MJ

Photo by Anastasia Petrova via Unsplash

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