The Importance of Joy
Bringing More Joy Into Our Lives
Joy is one of those strange topics. Many people talk about it, but nobody really knows exactly what it is or how to achieve it. If they do, what they say may certainly work for one person but not for someone else. Many of us end up chasing joy and happiness all of our lives, just to discover that there is no “end” goal.
The concept of joy is subjective. While it’s the ultimate goal for nearly every human being, it means something different to all of us. However, as unique as we all are, there are a few common ideas to help you find what truly brings you joy in life.
This week, I interviewed Lauren Raymond on the podcast. She teaches people how to bring more joy into their lives, after a personal journey had her questioning her own life purpose. She is also the author of a book and has her own podcast, called “Navigating Joy Together”.
Creating joy in our lives can make a big difference for our overall wellbeing.
Consciously creating joy is something I have been working on as well. It is not something I thought about right away when it came to my mental health journey. But, over time, have truly come to appreciate the positive impact that joy and happiness have made in my life.
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
- Henri Nouwen
No matter who you are, what your past was like, or what goals you have for your future, you can benefit from Lauren’s tips to help you bring more joy into your life, so you can live a more full and enriching life.
Do YOU have Joy in YOUR Life?
This question, while very short, can be one of the most complex to answer. What is true joy? And Is happiness the same thing as joy?
Some people equate happiness to the amount of “pleasure” and “excitement” they feel on a daily basis. In essence, this means living a life of wealth, danger, or adventure. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, these ambitions are fleeting and leave us wanting more as soon as we achieve them.
This is precisely what the phrase “money can’t buy happiness” means. While you may feel happy at the moment as you reach financial success, there’s a reason why many celebrities and ultra-wealthy individuals end up depressed or struggling with mental distress. Chasing material things for joy will inevitably leave you feeling empty.
True happiness can be thought of as the peace of mind that comes with embracing the gift of life, while feeling as though you’re making a difference in the world. It’s an overall immersive feeling that everything is good. It doesn’t mean your situation is “good”, or your bank account is “good”, or that your weight has hit a “good” number. But, it means you are content with life, and all is well.
Positive Effects of Joy on Health
It’s no secret that living a depressed, stressful, or angry life can lead to a variety of both mental and physical ailments. Science has proven time and time again that our emotions impact our health and vice versa. Especially, when considering the mind body link, it becomes apparent how this connection can affect every part of our lives.
When we live a life of joy, we in turn feel better. We have all heard the phrase “do what makes you happy”, but why is this so important? There are many benefits to bringing more joy into our lives and doing what makes us happy.
It can help us prioritize our mental health and stay motivated in what we do. There could also be an increase in self-confidence and overall productivity when we have more happiness. We also grow as human beings and learn to enjoy life more. And being joyful helps us engage in healthier relationships.
Truly, when we spend our lives doing something that makes us happy we create a total mind/body shift into our best selves. As we engage more in our passions, we relieve stress, improve negative thoughts, and feel overall better about ourselves. This supports both our physical and mental wellbeing.
How to Create More Joy
So, how do we go about figuring out what brings us more joy? While the answer to this may change with time, it is important to understand what brings us joy here and now as soon as possible.
In order to understand the bigger picture, it’s a great idea to grab a pen and paper and document what makes you happy right now. Be as selfish and materialistic as you want, the goal is to be completely honest with yourself.
You may write down things like: a new pair of shoes, a promotion at work, or seeing the numbers on the scale decrease.
As you write these down, think to yourself about how you will feel after. Will that new pair of shoes leave you joyful in the long run? Or will you find yourself hopping back online to find another pair within a few weeks?
There is nothing wrong with wanting materialistic items. But it is important to gain an understanding of what things in your life you may think are making you happy, but really are not.
Once you can see this on paper, it can be easier for you to spot those “temporary highs”.
Track Your Joy
Our world is constantly on the go. It can be difficult to look back and remember what you wore last week, let alone what moments in your life have brought you the most joy.
Keep a record of times when you feel joy. Try to stay away from materialistic things. Instead of tracking the happiness you felt after you admired your new set of manicured nails, think of times you helped others or achieved a personal goal.
Even small things such as sitting on your back porch and watching the rain counts. Simply record moments in life when you feel content and happy with life. This increases your self-awareness and helps you track any common trends.
Now that you’ve been tracking those joy-filled moments, it is time to reflect back on them. Why did it bring you so much happiness to give a homeless man a bottle of water on a hot day? If you walked away from that, feeling immense joy for hours, maybe this means you have the heart of a servant and need to explore this more.
Let’s say you felt ecstatic putting together a “get well soon” gift basket for a friend. Why did this make you feel happy? Is gift giving your love language? Think back on these circumstances and get your gears turning as you think back on why you may have felt this way.
The more you begin to dive into what makes you happy and why, the more likely you can incorporate that into your everyday life.
For example, if sitting on the back porch watching the rain brought you great joy, maybe you need to plan for this quiet time more often. Make it a habit to sit outside and watch the storm instead of doing household chores or watching Netflix.
Joy is one of those topics that is so simple, it’s complex. If you are at a crossroads in life where you need to find your joy, think about the opposite. What in your everyday life doesn’t bring you joy? It could be an emotionally draining job, a social responsibility you dread, or a relationship you have grown out of.
Sometimes looking at happiness from the flip side can be incredibly beneficial to kick start this process. Most people are actually very good at determining what does not make them happy. And then you have a starting point for finding more joy.
No matter what, thinking about what brings us joy isn’t always as easy as it looks.
While it is simple, it is not easy. Remember, joy is ever-changing. The definition of joy at 21 may look vastly different than your definition of joy at 45. Keep in mind that it is ok to redefine what happiness means to you at any given time.
So, what genuinely brings you joy? Feel free to be as honest with yourself as possible. Once you’re able to dig deep within yourself and answer this question you’ll be on your way to living a more content and fulfilling life.