Joy is a choice. Now I know that we all know a couple of people who seem to be happy pretty much all of the time and for sure, some people have a higher happiness baseline than others. But the most current research on joy and happiness has proven that we truly have the ability to make choices in our lives that will bring more joy to our days and happiness to our hearts. While there are many tactics that can work, here are our top nine.
Control the Input. Remember, you control what you read, watch and listen to. So you can choose to consume a endless stream of negativity or you can choose to rock out to Beyonce.
Cultivate Gratitude. Research shows that the single best thing you can do to raise your happiness over time is to develop a gratitude practice where you purposefully acknowledge things for which you are grateful each day. Over time, this practice trains your brain to, well, focus on the positive.
Sleep. You can’t be joyful when you are exhausted. Unless you are one of the rare, rare exceptions to the rule, you need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night to function at your best. Make it a priority to get the sleep you need to chase the things that give you joy.
Simple is Good. Don’t ever forget that simple things can deliver big jolts of joy. Joy comes from moments when we make the choice to read a story to our children, hop on the swing at the playground or lick the chocolate pudding from the bowl. You don’t have to look for joy in the form of a Hawaiin vacation, you can find joy in the hammock in your own backyard.
Give, Give, Give, Get. As human beings, we are wired to experience joy when we do things for other people. Big things, or small things. Volunteering our time to help those in need or bringing our partner a cup of coffee in bed, doing for others will give you joy. How awesome is that?
Move More. I know, we say it all the time around here but that’s because it is true: moving more brings you joy. We are built to move. Our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our moods, our emotions, they are all made more joyful by movement. So don’t wait until you “feel like” taking a walk, take a walk to feel better.
Eat Better. A remarkable Spanish study including 12,000 people over six years revealed that people who ate more junk food and consumed more high fructose corn syrup were 48% more likely to suffer from depression. 48%! Fuel your body with nutritious food and you’ll have the capacity to be more joyful.
Mindfulness and Mediation. We are running through our lives. Rushing from one thing, one task, one obligation to another. But when we slow down, when we take the time to appreciate the moments in our lives, that’s when we have the greatest capacity for joy. Mindfulness and meditation are two practices which, over time, will absolutely increase your capacity for joy.
Have Some Friggin’ Fun. When did we all get so serious? We are all so stressed. We are all so busy. Can’t we just make time for fun? Good old-fashioned fun? Whatever fun looks like for you, whether it is dinners with friends or water skiing, make time to do things for no reason other than that they are fun.
Choosing joy is a practice that requires practice. But isn’t it high time we start getting to work on choosing the things that give us the most joy?