Happiness gurus tell us that joy won’t come if we sit and wait for it - and happiness isn’t about having the perfect job / partner / house / car / selfie. Obtaining ‘things’ may bring temporary exhilaration but, in reality, can make us want for more and may leave us feeling dissatisfied or empty. Plus, the relentless drive to achieve a higher salary, status, a better house or car etc. can be hard work, time consuming and leave us feeling drained.
What if a sense of innate happiness or joy wasn’t such hard work to achieve? What if we could experience regular ‘moments’ of joy by consciously engaging in simple (free!) actions which often involve increasing our sense of gratitude?
Buddhists, happiness gurus and mindfulness experts often describe the universal elements in the world and in life which can bring us joy: themes of which are, for example:
- Immersing ourselves in nature (birdsong, morning sun, spring blooms, forest walks, coastal breeze, eating fresh fruit, the sensation of water etc.)
- Experiencing something ‘bigger’ than ourselves such as looking at the stars or the moon, standing on top of a mountain or building with a 360-degree view or, if you are religious or spiritual, connecting to this
- Real human connection, for example, face to face experiences of mutual empathy when you feel someone has ‘really got you’ and you ‘get them’
- Self-care (warm baths, homemade smoothies, 6 glasses of water a day, plenty of sleep, regular massages, meditation, self-affirmations or whatever self-care means for you).
- Having a positive attitude of gratitude
10 Simple (free) Actions to Increase Joy
- Spend at least 15 minutes a day in natural daylight
- Practice ‘belly breathing’ ensuring the ‘out breath’ is longer than the ‘in breath’
- Smile more (real smiling using the eyes) - it can help to alleviate physical and emotional pain and it’s infectious
- Find a hill, or look out of your window, to observe the stars and universe beyond
- Arrange regular face to face meetups with someone you trust and feel a connection with
- Consciously engage in regular self-care activities, however small or brief
- Keep an ’attitude of gratitude’ journal and note down three things a day that you are grateful for
- Learn to meditate and practice this regularly (even if this is a quick 10 mins before bed)
- Acts of kindness – spend the day praising others, leaving a tip, helping a neighbour etc.
- Tell your partner / children how much they mean to you, and mean it