A common thread most of my coaching clients experience is a lack of joy in their life, which is often attributed to a bad working environment: Too much call, too many hours at work, not enough pay, long days, not enough vacation, and too much busy work. But is that a fair assessment? Is it fair to rely on your job to bring joy to your life? Or to let your job suck all the joy out of your life? If you quit a job you don’t like, will you suddenly become joyful?
If you were sitting at your desk feeling down, and heard your name announced as having just won seven figures in a lottery, would your mood suddenly change? You would likely feel elated. Yet nothing actually changed in your life. You don’t actually have any more money in your bank account, your job didn’t change, your friends have not changed, yet you feel different. You have a hope that was not there before. YOU generated that joy, not the radio announcer.
YOU created the change in your attitude. It is all about how YOU decided to feel. If the radio announcer, then apologized for reading the wrong name and it was not you who won, I suspect your attitude would shift again. But again, nothing about your outside environment actually changed. Your environment was identical with both announcements. Your attitude change came from within.
The things that happen around us do not change our joy level, only the way we react to them will change the amount of joy we experience. So to make your life more joyful, I would like to give you seven things you can do to boost your joy level. No sense being down, when you can choose to be up.
1: Practice Gratitude
Start every morning by listing five things you are thankful for. When we are thankful, our joy level increases. When we practice gratitude, our spirit is lifted. It’s hard not to smile when we are thinking about the great things in our lives.
No matter how low our joy meter is currently, there are always things to be thankful for. Here are some examples from my life. I am thankful for a loving wife. My kids have become responsible adults. I have a nice home to protect my family from the elements. I have time to help care for my grandson, who is adorable. I am healthy. I have been vaccinated. I have my freedom. I have a car, a phone, and a television. I ate dinner last night. My receptionist at the office brightens every day. I saw a beautiful sunrise this morning. There are birds singing outside my window. My grandson smiles when he sees me.
Try this exercise each morning for a week and see how you feel.
2: Smile More
When you are sad, people can see it in your face. The same is true when you are joyful. This communication between your face and your brain works both ways. Test it out. First slump down in your seat, roll your shoulders forward, hang your head down and frown. Take note of how you feel in this position. Then sit up straight, shoulders back, head up and smile. Then take note of how you feel. It’s amazing how your posture and facial expression effects how you feel.
Not only does smiling make us feel more joyful, it also makes those around us more joyful as well. Smiling is contagious. So smile often. If you want more information about the benefits of smiling, I published a book review of The Smile Prescription, written by my friend Dr. Rich Castellano, which is filled with hard data about the effects of smiling.
3: Enjoy Your Hobbies
Hobbies are not usually considered ‘productive,’ so they are often the first things cut out of our schedule when we become busy. We need to rethink this relationship with our hobbies. We enjoy our hobbies because they are fun and rewarding to us. They help recharge our batteries so when we go back to work we work more productively.
When I was a teenager, I remember my mom commenting on my piano playing. She noted whenever I was stressed, I would play the piano to feel better. There is something about playing music (my hobby) that is rejuvenating. Give your hobbies a greater segment of your week and you will feel more rejuvenated and joyful.
4: Start a Thank You File
Years ago I noticed how good I felt whenever I received a thank you note. I got them from all kinds of sources, but they all had the same effect on boosting my moral. So I started saving them in a file marked “Thank You Notes.”
When I felt a bit down, I would open the file and start reading the notes from all those people who had thanked me for something in the past. It is amazing how a note from a decade before can affect my current mood.
Most people read their thank you notes, smile, show them to a few friends, and then toss them in the garbage. Don’t throw away such important attitude adjusters. Start your own file and save them for those days when you feel the need for a heartwarming smile. Then when you need a pick me up, take ten minutes and read some of the notes from your file. You will be surprised how much your mood will improve from such a simple task.
5: Laugh More
Just like smiling, laughing produces a similar joyful effect. We can’t help but feel better when we laugh. How can you bring more laughter into your life? Can you play a fun game like charades that sparks laughter? Can you tell a joke? Or simply watch this scene about loving to laugh from Mary Poppins.
My friend Dani Klein Modisett, who is a professional comedian, taught me a lot about bringing laughter into my lectures. She and some of her comedian friends have developed a business called Laughter on Call, which brings comedians right to you, your office or wherever you need some laughter.
Want to boost the moral and joy level in your office, have a happy hour event with Laughter on Call and your office will gain a whole new attitude.
The more we laugh, the better we feel. So bring some laughter to every meal. Bring laughter to the dinner table at home and spread joy to your family.
Exercise raises the endorphin level in our bodies which improves our attitude. Chalene Johnson (Turbo Jam, PiYo, Turbo Fire) is known for teaching us to only exercise on the days we want to feel good. Isn’t that every day?
I know when I am tired, I don’t feel like I have the energy to do a workout. But after the workout, my attitude improves and I feel more energetic.
So if you want to raise the joy level in your life, exercise regularly. But remember to ignore the sore muscles that happen the first few times after you begin exercising. Regular exercise will eliminate the soreness and you will get the amazing effects of the endorphin boost.
I know you have heard the phrase “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” When we give something to someone, it gives us joy as well. Giving also reminds us of our abundance and the joy it brings to others to whom we share it.
I remember the following comment one of our students made during a Crown Financial class we taught around Christmas time:
Throughout this class I have been complaining about our financial situation. But this week we gave out Christmas baskets to needy families. It dawned on me that we are on the giving end of those baskets, not the receiving end. Even though we haven’t achieved our financial goals, we actually have more than we need, or we wouldn’t be able to provide Christmas baskets to others.
Giving reminds us of our abundance. Become a giver, and the joy level in your life will increase.
There are many other ways you can increase your level of joy when you need it. Maybe you can share in the comments some of the things you do that bring you joy. Always remember joy is in your control. Don’t give outside sources the power to steal your joy. It is not theirs to take. Make the decision now to be joyful.