I recently took a CliftonStrengths™ assessment and my #1 personality trait was Positivity. I immediately thought “That’s so on brand!”
So there’s no confusion about my obsession with high-energy positive people and surroundings. Honestly, I want every day to be sunny and perfect (like that almost annoying feels-staged type of perfection). And I realize that’s not realistic, even as much as I (think I) want it to be.
I realize that there are highs and lows in life. However, having a positive mindset helps you live with joy even during the low points, while finding meaning in the low points. (Read: “The lows make you appreciate the highs.”)
Not too long ago, I realized that there’s a difference between joy and happiness. You can have joy even when things are going awry because it lives in your soul; a knowing that things are working together for your good no matter how things look. Happiness can be a by-product of joy. Joy is an internal emotion that is not destroyed by external factors, while happiness ebbs and flows and can be impacted by external factors.
We can all choose to live joyfully.
The Science of Joy
Have you ever wondered what makes us feel joyful? In this section, we’ll explore the science behind happiness and the key factors that contribute to a more joyful life.
Researchers have found that our sense of joy is influenced by various factors, including genetics, life circumstances, and intentional activities. While we can’t change our genetics or some aspects of our circumstances, we have significant control over our intentional activities. This means that we can actively cultivate joy by engaging in practices like gratitude, mindfulness, and acts of kindness.
Here’s a few ways that I foster more joyful living:
Define what joyful means to you. As elementary as it may sound, not everyone has truly tapped into what feels joyful for them. Or given themselves permission to accept their own unique joy, especially if it isn’t popular amongst the masses.
Joy could be the extra foam on your latte from the cutie in the coffee shop.
Or seeing a baby smile with those adorable front 2 baby teeth.
Or listening to a parent or grandparent tell you a story about “a time when” even if you’ve heard the story a thousand times. Shout out to my father who tells me all of his stories at least ten times and with the same level of enthusiasm each and every time…he even pauses at the same points as if he’s about to give me the big reveal like “baby, and guess what happened next?”…knowing good and darn well that I’ve already heard the story a million times! And he doesn’t care. That’s where the Joy comes in. And I still laugh at the same parts and act surprised when he does the big reveal!
Joy can be a small thing or a really big thing. But you get to define it.
Practice gratitude. Gratitude is by far one of the best ways to increase joy in your life. It is simply an emotion of appreciation. When I spoke earlier about my positive approach to life, I didn’t mention that this is one of my best-kept secrets of fueling this positivity: I practice gratitude daily.
According to Robert Emmons, the world’s leading expert on gratitude, there is not one area of life that doesn’t improve when we use gratitude as the lens from which to view it.
People who practice gratitude consistently tend to be happier, more optimistic, and more satisfied with life than those without consistent practice. Gratitude and positive emotions operate in a synergistic manner: gratitude strengthens our ability to cope with stress and encourages us to live in and celebrate the present, while positive emotions like happiness help us connect with what we have to be grateful for.
- Find ways to connect with others. Connection and community bring joy to our lives and even extend our lifespan. If you break down the word Community you find “Common” + “Unity”: a community is a place where you can find common unity with others; a place of connecting and belonging. You get to decide where your community resides – whether it’s with family, friends, or places that allow you to show up fully as yourself. These communities may evolve over time. I am personally spending a lot more time in a community of healers and coaches and those helping others to live fuller lives, and it is feeding my soul. I’ve found my tribe. Yours is out there too. Go be with your people and get your Joy.
These are just a few ideas and I invite you to think of others that fit your lifestyle.
All I wish is that you find ways to see your life in a more positive way and live your life more joyfully.