8 Ways to Choose Joy Everyday

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday.” – Henri Nouwen

One day many years ago, I was taking a shortcut through a car park. A sudden spontaneous thought came into my mind with such force that I actually said the words out loud, to no one in particular: “I’m so ANGRY!”

Hearing those words stopped me in my tracks. I knew I’d said them, but I couldn’t figure out why. Nothing had happened that morning to make me angry, and there was no specific incident the anger was about.

In that moment I saw myself as if my mind had taken a photographic snapshot. There I was, standing in the middle of the car park – jaws clenched, brows knit in a frown, shoulders tensed.

I knew then that anger had become my default state. My most spontaneous thought was one of anger. Until now I have no idea how I’d gotten that way, though I suppose it was the result of allowing the cares of the world to shape my subconscious.

That was many years ago. Today my default state is joyfulness. In my most spontaneous moments, I find myself smiling for no reason at all.

What I’ve learned is that joy is a choice. We can choose to be joyful every day. The good news is that after making this choice often enough, joy becomes our spontaneous, default state.

8 ways to choose joy every day:

1. Be grateful that you woke up today

It’s so easy to take our days for granted because we have so many of them. Yet hundreds of thousands of people did not wake up this morning. We who did are the lucky ones.

When I open my eyes in the morning and can see, hear, breathe, and feel, I say a word of thanks and my day is joyful before I even get out of bed.

2. Start the day with exercise

Researchers found that those who exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to do it regularly than those who schedule exercise later in the day. This is because our daily activities often run late, eating into exercise time.

Nowadays I ride my bike at 5 am a few days a week. It’s hard to get out of bed that early, but well worth the effort. By the time others wake up, I’ve already got adrenaline, endorphins, and serotonin in my system to make me feel joyful.

3. Create an oasis in the morning rush

Most people have a hectic morning routine. Getting the kids ready for school, rushing through breakfast, and commuting in peak hour traffic all add to our stress. Creating an oasis in that mad rush provides the calm we need to feel joyful.

My oasis is reading for a short while, preferably over coffee. I aim to reach my workplace half an hour early, which gives me a little privacy to read in quiet. When I’m late and miss this time, the rest of the day feels like one mad rush.

4. Meditate or pray

Meditation has been scientifically shown to have a huge impact on happiness. Shawn Achor says that meditation helps us “get over the cultural ADHD to focus on the task at hand.” Our minds are constantly over-stimulated, leaving no room for the quiet joy that is our normal state when calm.

While the recommended duration is 20 minutes of meditation daily, even one minute or one breath helps. Find a trigger that helps you meditate or take at least one deep breath. I take a few deep breaths while waiting for my computer to boot up.

5. Make a human connection

The paradox of our times is that we are connecting more with our gadgets and less with other people. One of the findings in Harvard’s popular Positive Psychology course is that we are happier when we stop texting while with friends.

I’m as guilty of being addicted to my phone as the next person. When having coffee or lunch with a friend, I now try to leave my phone in my bag instead of putting it on the table where it tempts me visually. Focusing entirely on my friend increases the quality of our time together, and makes us both happier (and more polite too!)

6. Simplify your choices

From soft drinks to shopping malls to social networks, our society has exploded with an abundance of choices. While some freedom of choice is important for autonomy, too much actually decreases our satisfaction.

Studies show that choosing from six options results in more satisfaction than from thirty options. Choose to eat at a restaurant with a simpler menu, or shop for groceries at a smaller supermarket. When we simplify our life, we save time on decision-making and enjoy our experiences more.

7. Perform a random act of kindness

Happiness levels have been shown to increase by doing 5 random acts of kindness a week. We don’t have to go out of our way to perform acts of kindness. Just choose to say ‘yes’ when presented with an opportunity, rather than turn away.

Drop a note into a busker’s hat, hold the door open for the next person, help someone carry a pram up the stairs, or leave chocolates on a weary colleague’s desk. If you’ve ever done any of this, you know how good it makes you feel!

8. Journal about your gratitudes or positive experiences

Two specific types of journaling have been shown to increase happiness after just one week. One is to keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you are grateful for every day. The other is to reflect on a positive experience that day.

Both these habits train our brains to look out for what is good each day. We are basically re-wiring our brains over time to focus on joyfulness. Gradually, we won’t have to choose joy anymore; we ARE joy.

Choose joy!

Source: joyfuldays.com

Newsletter, 8/9/22 Living Your Best Life

The Joy of Living Life on My Terms

From the Desk of Michele C Foster

Ahh! The Joy of Living Life on My Terms . . .

If that sounds easy, it’s not always been. If that sounds trite, I can assure you it’s not. To be responsible for myself first has been the greatest gift of love and self-respect I could have ever done.

If I am asked to do something for another – two things happen;
– I see how it benefits me or doesn’t.
– Yes means yes, and no, means no.

The reasoning behind this is simple, desiring to feel good about my decision comes quickly when I evaluate the situation and see how it makes me FEEL. Then, if I say yes, I honor that commitment, and if I say no I honor that too.

There is a great story told by Oprah Winfrey. When we all found out how “rich” she became, her dear friend Stevie Wonder came to her and asked her to donate to something he was orchestrating. She thought of how if she said no, (and he knows she has money) he may never talk to her again or be her friend anymore. However, she decided to stay true to herself and she declined the “opportunity”, and Stevie Wonder said “ok”! It was that simple . . . get it? READ MORE

8 Ways to Choose Joy Everyday

One day many years ago, I was taking a shortcut through a car park. A sudden spontaneous thought came into my mind with such force that I actually said the words out loud, to no one in particular: “I’m so ANGRY!”

Hearing those words stopped me in my tracks. I knew I’d said them, but I couldn’t figure out why. Nothing had happened that morning to make me angry, and there was no specific incident the anger was about.

In that moment I saw myself as if my mind had taken a photographic snapshot. There I was, standing in the middle of the car park – jaws clenched, brows knit in a frown, shoulders tensed.

I knew then that anger had become my default state. My most spontaneous thought was one of anger. Until now I have no idea how I’d gotten that way, though I suppose it was the result of allowing the cares of the world to shape my subconscious. READ MORE

Why Is Saying ‘No’ So Important?

Do you consider yourself a people pleaser?

Do you find yourself saying “yes” to people only to regret it moments later?

Do you tend to put others’ needs before your own?

If you answered in the affirmative to any of the above questions, it may serve you to become better at saying “no.”

William Ury, in his book The Power of a Positive No: Save the Deal, Save the Relationship—and Still Say No, suggests the dilemma we encounter in saying “no” often stems from an internal struggle between plugging into our own sense of power and a simultaneous desire to cater to, or foster, a relationship. Ury says we often find ourselves doing one of three things in response to a request… READ MORE

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

As human beings, one of our deepest-rooted desires is to have a meaningful and happy existence. You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Live your best life.” It’s good advice.

We all want to feel connected to both ourselves and others. We want to feel that we’re part of something important and that we’re making a difference in the world.

We want to look back at our lives and our achievements and be proud. In short, we want what the saying says: to live our best lives.

But what does it really mean to live your best life?

You are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you. Your best life will reflect your true values. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be colored by what making a difference means to you… READ MORE


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