Without joy in our days we don’t really live, we exist. A day spent existing is a day pretty much wasted. Joy is the emotion or feeling of contentment, sometimes even elated contentment. It is usually preceded by a feeling of self-worth. Therefore, joy is something that we have the power to create …daily. We need only do things that help us feel worthy in our world and good about our self.
While we can experience joy by way of external forces like winning, discovering, or finding something, or by being on the receiving end of another’s kindness, we benefit most, and more often, by being pro-active and creating our own joy. Here are some behaviors that often lead to joy, things we can do every day, even multiple times each day, that have the power to create joy, not only in our own life, but possibly in the lives of others as well.
- Accomplish A Procrastinated Task. Continually postponing something that we need or want to get done has a negative effect on our self-worth. We often end up feeling like a slacker. Overcoming a comfy-zone slump, even for just one task, can provide us with a burst of pride and sense of accomplishment. Do it!
- Treat People Kindly. Usually when we are disrespectful to others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we tend to feel guilty or remorseful. One way to ensure that we always treat people kindly is to attempt, during every communication with another individual, to leave them feeling better about themselves because of their interaction with us. Routinely complementing or validating others has restorative power, for us and for them.
- Achieve A Goal. One of the biggest thieves of self-worth is laziness. When we achieve little or nothing, even for a single day, our self-worth takes a hit. Have meaningful goals and work on them daily, even if they are just sub-goals. A little bit goes a long way. Be careful not to confuse achievement with accomplishment though. Accomplishment is something that needs to be done and you’ve done it before. Achievement is something new that requires effort, like writing the first chapter of your book …or the first page. Success really does breed success.
- Set A New Goal. When we have little to look forward to, few or no exciting endeavors on the horizon, our enthusiasm for life starts to atrophy. Making new and meaningful plans can be a personal pick-me-up. Hope and expectation are natural segues to joy.
- Do A Good Deed. Selfishness leads to fear, guilt, and shame. This isn’t good. Give. Give yourself away. Help others. Be kind. Lift as you climb. You know how it works, the more you give, the more you get.
- Read From Your Glory File. Feeling down or unworthy are conditions we all must deal with at times. This isn’t fun. One uplifting way to counteract this is to read from your glory file. You glory file is literally a file (or two, or three) where you store all of the evidence of success and achievement from your entire life. It should contain anything and everything that you are, or ever were, proud of. Your file should include awards, letters of commendation, promotions, thank you cards, notes, and letters, also ribbons, pictures, newspaper articles …as much good and happy stuff about you as you can possibly find. And, you should continue to add to your glory file for the rest of your life. Think of the possibilities, the fun, and the joy that your glory file can provide in the years to come. If you don’t already have a glory file, you’d better get started.
- Write something. Lack of a written record of our life leads to us being forgettable, not only by others, but by our self as well. Write in a journal. Write a poem. Write a song. Write a love letter. Write a thank you. Write an apology. Write an affirmation. Write a goal. Write a memoir. Write a short story. Write a long story. Write an autobiography. Write a book. Benjamin Franklin said, “If you would not be forgotten when you’re dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.”
- Do Something Unexpected And Nice For Someone You Love. No one wins any points for taking someone for granted, especially if that someone is someone you love. When it happens to us, we don’t like it. And when we do it, they don’t like it either. But, over the years the behavior of family members can become quite routine and predictable; have you? It’s time to break the mold. For no apparent reason and on no special occasion, do something especially nice (according to them) for that someone special in your life. Send a card, give a gift, schedule a trip, take them out, or send everyone else out. There are plenty of things you can do to create a pleasant surprise. And then do it again and again. Joy will find its way to your heartstrings. NOTE: I recommend you start with the two most important especially nice things: “Thank You” and “I Love You.”
- Whisper Sweet Things …To Yourself. We are often our own worst enemies when it comes to eroding self-worth. Most of us are much harder on ourselves than we are on others. We criticize, belittle, and deceive …ourselves. This does much more damage than we realize. We must replace the negative self-talk with positive self-talk, and we must do it immediately. Seduce yourself. Fall in love with yourself. Talk to yourself with kindness and tenderness, as you do or did with your mate. Joy is not possible unless you do this. The more you do it, the more joy you are allowing into your life.
- Forgive Others And Forgive Yourself. Forgiving others, as difficult as it may be at times, usually comes easier than forgiving ourselves. This should not be so. Each and every one of us is a child of the universe. We will all have our share of mistakes and regrettable deeds. Judgment is often the reason we haven’t forgiven others. Shame is often the reason we haven’t forgive ourselves. Both are necessary to capture joy. Forgiving others helps us grow; forgiving our self helps us glow.
- Do What You Love. It’s quite difficult to harvest self-worth and joy when our days are filled with work we don’t like and people we don’t enjoy being around. If you feel stuck in a job, or can’t change your vocation to something that you don’t consider “work,” then start or engage in an avocation that makes your heart sing. Do something you love. The same goes for the people in your life. Start slowly, but find a way to spend most of your time with people whom you find fun and invigorating.
- “Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by.”
Capturing joy on purpose is a great way to make sure we don’t end up dead before we die.