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Mental Health

Keeping Joy in Your Life

By May 26, 2024No Comments

Feelings come and go like waves. They are emotional responses to what we are thinking about, believing and experiencing. Emotions are neither right or wrong. For example, there is no right way to feel in any given situation. Some emotions are painful and some are pleasant. When I worked inpatient we had a list of core emotions — fear, anger, shame, guilt, hurt, sad, lonely and joy. Only one pleasant emotion?? That’s because every pleasant emotion pretty much fits under the umbrella of joy (insert silly arm gestures representing an umbrella). There are so many more painful emotions listed because we usually have a harder time identifying them. Joy is easy!

Joy feels good! It often comes with a smile and possibly a laugh. Who doesn’t like to feel joy? How can we keep joy in our lives or cultivate it so it is more present? Here’s a few ideas…

  1. Pursue joy. Surely you’ve heard of the pursuit of happiness as being part of the Declaration of Independence in the U.S.A. The interesting thing to note is that the word pursuit here actually refers to ‘pursuit of law or medicine.’ As in a practice or vocation. In other words, practicing joy and happiness is necessary for a person’s independence and wellness.
  2. Check your thoughts. What are you magnifying? If you focus on the negative and discouraging things it will effect how you feel. That doesn’t mean we deny them but don’t give them more focus than is necessary. Magnify the good, pleasant, positive things in your life. Take joy in what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have.
  3. Create a culture of joy. This can be at work, home, in your marriage, family or friendships. There has ben a lot of study on workplace culture and the power of toxic and positive cultures. Why not create a culture of joy? This includes intentional laughter, light heartedness, practice gratitude and appreciation, etc.
  4. Activate joy in your life. Ditch complaining and entertaining critical thoughts and talk. Choose to kick your joy production into a higher gear. There are many health benefits that come from being joyful. It actually helps improve our immune system, cardiovascular health and overall well-being. Plus, it’s just a lot more fun.