Joy is a choice.
Yes, a choice.
The mundane can be gleeful, and even the frustrating things in life can hold gems in them that lift us a little. That is not to say that we still won’t feel angry or sad, but recognizing that there may be something positive in any difficulty can keep us from getting submerged in the emotion, numbing it out with food, or acting out in other ways that may not be in our best interest.
With the economic and employment troubles affecting most everyone on some level, our national levels of stress have been stimulated, to put it mildly. Yet even in the most stressful times, we can minimize the harm of high levels of stress by seeking moments of joy that exist all around us.
Below are tools to create greater joy in your life – whether you are working through a personal difficulty or simply wanting more of what you already have.Â These tools were shared with me in The Solution Method. Wired for Joy, the initial 6 week introduction to the Method, will be starting July 6th, 2009. Please email or call me for more details!
Conscious Attention: Mindfulness is key. When we are aware of what gives us joy, we can recall these memories at will.These memories can affect the brain chemistry as strongly as theÂ when the experience happened. Make a list of things which you know give you an emotional boost. Then be on the lookout for the day-to-day joyful experiences so you can add to your list. See mine below for ideas. No item is too large or too small!
Intention: having an intention of happiness and joy sets our compass in the direction we wish to head. Having the intention increases our chance of success – whatever the goal. Research backs this up – in the laboratory as well as through historical documentation (Napoleon Hill comes to mind). Add joy, pleasure, and intention to all that you plan on doing to the day. Don’t just intend to go to work, bu intend to go to work and have a positive experience there. Begin seeking joy in your life and expecting it to come your way and you live out your life.
The Earned Rewards in Life: Gratitude has been shown to be one of the best tools to shift one’s mindset from neutral to joyful. When we express gratefulness for what has come to us we not only increase our joy but become receptive to receiving more. Those who express gratitude not only are healthier, but live 7-9 years longer. Our left prefontal cortex is flooded with feel-good hormones when we focus on what is positive; the end outcome being flooding our brain with endorphins. Negative thinking activates the right prefontal cortex and floods the system with fight-or-flight response hormones that deplete us and can eventually lead to stress-induced diseases such as depression, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease, among others.
Make it a Daily Practice — take a deep breath settle in – what are three things I am grateful for in this moment? Ask this question daily. If you are experiencing more stress than usual, ask it several times throughout the day. Set an alarm on your computer or phone to remind you!
When you ask this question, what comes to mind? No pressure. Think of what you can in this moment. Feel gratitude in your body and acknowledge it. Just a small practice such as this can increase your joy and when you share it with others you can give it to them as well. JOY IS CONTAGIOUS! This is the reason why I always include Bragging Rights in my monthly newsletter.
Aimee’s List O’ Joy
- fresh juice
- spring flowers
- seeing fruit on the tree
- hiking in a forest
- a good joke; I am particularly fond of puns and intellectual humor.
- synchronicity in daily life
- warm bathrobes
- a cool, cloudy day
- watching my turtles eat
- ripe, fresh berries
- farmers’ markets
What brings you joy that you haven’t done in awhile? What have you planned to do to treat yourself that you haven’t done yet? Make a note of the ones you do regularly and set about the intention to experience focused joy around that area. I love spring flowers, but right now they are in abundance and I have become a little desensitized. So I am going to recommit to focusing high joy on the flowers that stop me in my tracks. Rather than walk by, I may stop and examine them closer, bring some home with me, or take a photo.
Taken from notes: 3 June 2009; Teleconference with Judy Zehr LPC. MHRM
To learn more on the science of gratitude, you may wish to read Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier
To learn more about rewiring your brain for less stress and greater joy, visit www.thepathway.org