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Cultivate joy in three simple steps

I believe that joy is something we have the ability to cultivate deep within ourselves and can be felt in many different ways. Contentment, confidence, hope, tranquility, peace, happiness are a few that come to mind.

Joy is the inner knowing that the universe has your back and you are safe. That, no matter the circumstances, there is always the possibility that things will change for the better, and when looking back, you will be able to see the positive in the negative.

So how can we cultivate joy, and therefore the ability to experience those different states of inner peace more often?

I'm glad you asked!

1. Master the art of becoming your own best friend!

This is such a crucial part of the joy equation. So many of us speak negatively to ourselves. We put ourselves down, we tell ourselves off, we experience inner frustration and even hatred. But many of us wouldn't treat our friends this way. If we did, then there's a good chance we wouldn't have any friends at all.

If we start to treat ourselves as we would treat a best friend, then we are well on the way to having more joy in our lives. Pause and think how you would treat your best friend? What comes to mind? Do you speak kindly to them? Encourage them when things are tough? Care for and look after them? I assume you do.

Now pretend you've got a new best friend - yourself! Start treating yourself the same way. Pay attention to the voice in your head. When you hear those negative, hurtful thoughts that you've been repeating year after year, gently tell yourself that's no way to speak to a friend and change the dialogue. Yes, it's okay to have inner dialogue. The more you can turn it to positive, the more joy you'll start experiencing.

2. Gratitude for the little (simple) things

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude! It's the buzz word of the decade. You've probably heard people talk about gratitude to death, so why I am banging on about it too?

Well, it's the easiest way to bring some joy into your life. Let me explain.

I have bad days. Days when I feel lonely, sad and frustrated. Days when I just can't find the joy. It's on these days especially that having a daily practice of gratitude comes in handy.

I have a journal that I keep by my bed. Every night before I lie down I answer the following three journal prompts:

  1. A moment I appreciated today was...

  2. Today I am proud of...

  3. Today I am grateful for...

These three sentence starters are the best way for me to see the positive in a crappy day. Here is an example:

  1. A moment I appreciated today was having a hot shower and washing my hair.

  2. Today I am proud of vacuuming the house.

  3. Today I am grateful for a warm bed, sunshine, cuddles from my puppy.

I usually end up writing about ten things I'm grateful for. I even write down the names of family, friends or colleagues that I thought of or saw that day. You could be grateful for your toothbrush, your favourite plant, the cup of coffee you had this morning. It doesn't matter. When we can truly appreciate all the simple or little things in our life, we will find great joy. Interestingly, when we appreciate those little things, our desire for the bigger, more unattainable things drops away because we are more satisfied with what we already have.

3. Turn to nature

For many of us, we spend a lot of time indoors away from natural light and fresh air. Taking five, ten or twenty minutes outside is a great way to find some joy. Nature is part of who we are. The more we dissociate from the natural world, the less joy we will feel. So it's imperative that we maintain that connection and get out as much as we can.

No matter the conditions (wind, rain, extreme heat), make sure you dress appropriately and then take the time to step outside. Observe the natural world around you. If you live in the city, find a park or look up to the sky and see what the clouds are doing. Moving around in the fresh air and taking a few deep breaths is a great energy shifter and will give you a sense of aliveness that will bring some joy back into your being. You know it's true, so go do it!

I hope reading these tips is encouragement enough for you to seek and cultivate more joy! Wishing you a great day. Thank you for reading.


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