How to Create Joy Today: 3 Tips for a Happy Life
I remember the first time I realized I was an unusually joyful person. It was also the first time I’d heard the phrase joie de vivre, and it also coincidentally came from Woody Harrelson (another #longstory), who reflected that I just had “so much joie de vivre.”
And...I did. I was someone who carried around colored pencils and drew pictures with strangers (I have one book that has pictures drawn with Woody Harrelson & Pierce Brosnan on one page, and on the other, pictures drawn with Bahamian men experiencing homelessness.)
I led pots-and-pans parades in the streets and howled at the moon and dumpster-dove for flowers to leave on strangers’ cars and graffitied inspirational messages on the New York subway and talked to any and all strangers and danced literally anywhere.
The long story short of how that level of joy was interrupted involved me getting heavily involved with two cults over a period of 9 years. (#truestory)
Especially in the more rigid and repressive second cult I was in, joy as its own aim was intensely frowned upon. One of my easiest access points for joy is humor, and humor for humor’s sake was also derided.
It was quite a serious environment, and in other ways, intensely traumatic. I forgot who I was at my core. I forgot that joy is all our birthright (to paraphrase a quote from Sarah Ban Breathnach).
I’m so grateful that I escaped that life, healed the wounds and integrated the learnings, and forged a path to be of service through being a mama, wife, and the Founder of Rasa.
And I’m so grateful for a very special friendship that helped me remember who I was and how to reclaim my joie de vivre.
When I feel into the level of stress and intensity of the current moment, it reminds me of the time I was most devoid of joy: the last year I was in the cult, and the year that followed.
Which is why I felt the need to impart these messages about Joy.
Joy is different from happiness:
Joy is an intense, momentary experience of positive emotion.
Happiness is more of a broad evaluation about how we feel about our lives over time.
To quote joy expert Ingrid Fetell Lee,
“Little moments of joy are often the first thing to go when we're stressed, anxious, or in a crisis. Sometimes it's because joy feels unimportant; too trivial to matter when there are more serious things that need to be dealt with. It's tempting to postpone joy when we're in an intense period at work, for example, and try to push through until we've achieved our goal. I also talk to many people who feel guilty experiencing or expressing joy while others around them are struggling.
But research shows that little moments of joy can help our bodies recover from the physiological effects of stress, and they can help us find meaning and purpose in tragic events. Rather than being a distraction, when we allow ourselves a moment of joy, it creates a respite that makes us more resilient.”
In our culture, we often put down joy as being childish, and reward more “adult,” serious kinds of behavior.
Especially now, it’s easy to de-prioritize joy, especially now, amidst such constant change and intensity. We become downtrodden, or even disassociate from the pressing issues that demand our time and attention.
My sense is that we need to keep remembering Joy so we can show up and do the precious work of making this world better and staying present to the enormous gifts of our lives.
With that said, here are some tips that might help you feel into your inherent, dormant Joy.
There are things in our external world that Ingrid Fetell Lee says evoke joy universally:
A. Color - Our brain recognizes color as a sign of life—we are neurologically programmed to feel joy at colorful things!
B. Circles & round objects - Angular things are often dangerous—think sharp sticks, knives, arrows. Conversely, round objects soften the hard edges of the world, and not only that, they’re often fun! Think balloons, balls, and Ferris wheels.
C. Symmetry - Symmetrical shapes and patterns create a sense of harmony amid the randomness of daily life.
D. Abundance - Again harkening back to our survival instincts, abundance gives us a feeling of joy (to feed our families, survive a hard winter, etc).
E. Lightness - Kites, hot air balloons, butterflies, clouds...joy often comes from things that float or fly.
Even just noticing these things will help buoy your spirit. And you can take it a step further and not just notice, but really let yourself feel them. Lean into your delight and it will reward you with more.
Make a list of the things that evoke Joy, and make an effort to do or notice them at least a few times a week.
For me personally, those are:
- Dancing - really losing myself in the music
- Humor - my meme collection is 🔥
- My kids - their unabashed presence and delight in existence really does make me want to jump up and down with glee
- Sprinting - the joy of running really fast with great music in my ears is one I miss a lot! (#backissues)
Joyspotting: LOOK for joy. You can find it in very simple things, especially nature. Even if you live in a city, vibrant graffiti, a neighbor’s wind chimes, and flowers can all be taken into your being and create a sense of joy.
Ingrid likes to call this #joyspotting, and it helps me cultivate delight.
We’re so excited to announce a very special, limited-edition tonic that will help you expand into your own inherent Joy.
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I’d love for you to hit comment or @ us on social with one way you’re going to cultivate joy in this next week. Bonus points if you include a joyful thing you’ve seen today!
Author: Lopa van der Mersch