For the past month, I’ve chosen to intentionally live with more joy and purpose (even in the un-fun, too-tired, hard times). As part of my #31DaysOfJoy movement, I’ve challenged myself and others to think BIGGER and be more authentic (check out some of these examples on Pinterest and Instagram).
And most importantly, I’ve discovered the immense difference between experiencing happiness and cultivating joy.
Here’s a little more about my journey into joy and how it’s different than simply seeking happiness.
Cultivating Joy, Experiencing Happiness
Over the centuries, may individuals and great minds have contemplated the difference between happiness and joy. A simple Google search will leave you with pages of hits and thousands of results. So what’s the bottom line?
After choosing to live a joy-filled month, I’ve learned that the core of the question really boils down to where you place your power.
Do you base your happiness on the external environment and what your relationships and activities give you?
Or do you seek a deeper, internal state of joy that you can access regardless of what happens around you?
When you base your happiness on external things, you give your power away to circumstance and, ultimately, risk feeling unhappy or disappointed. Psychology Today writer Sandra Brown, M.A., shares that “Happiness is external…It is dependent on outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations so that the end result is your happiness.” So if the end results don’t go your way (because you’re still human after all!), your happiness is at stake.
Now consider joy. Harder to explain, yet easily accessible, joy can be ever-present when you are in a mental, emotional, and physical state to choose peace over control. Brown continues, “Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are, why you are, and who you are not with.”
Lifestyle Guru and author, Danielle La Porte, puts it beautifully when she shares, “Happiness is like rising bubbles – delightful and inevitably fleeting. Joy is the oxygen – ever present.”
Three Steps Closer to Joy
While accessing more joy in life sounds great, let’s be honest. People who exude joy can be downright annoying sometimes. Our annoyance factor is generally rooted in the fact that we just can’t understand why they are so positive. Their joy mystifies us!
So to help you begin your own journey to joy, here are three simple steps to try today:
STEP ONE: Slow down and appreciate life. Joy calls us into the moment. Instead of wishing, hoping, and even planning for something better, simply “being with” whatever is happening and finding the joy in the moment is deeply transformational. This month, I’ve learned the value of slowing down so I can more deeply appreciate the beauty of life and the gifts it holds if we notice and accept them.
STEP TWO: Make sense of your circumstances. While the people and experiences we encounter don’t always go as we planned or hoped, these moments offer invaluable opportunities to consider what really matters. These are the spaces that you can actively choose your perspective with positive intention, rather than become a victim to your emotions and gut reactions.
STEP THREE: Tap into a deeper purpose. When you are connected to something bigger than what’s happening now, all the “stuff” that’s getting in the way doesn’t seem as big and daunting. Consider the purpose that grounds and guides your life and use these opportunities to refocus on what matters most. Combined with a greater appreciation for life and intentional perspective, you should be feeling more joy-filled already!
This month-long experience into joy has allowed me to cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude and personal strength, especially in times of frustration, doubt, and fear. To stay focused on choosing joy, I started making a list of the people, activities, and experiences that helped fill me with joy.
Leslie’s Joy List
- Activating my creativity
- Connecting with dear friends for a birthday brunch
- Taking the time to walk to work
- Interactions and smiles from strangers
- Basking in sunshine
- My yoga practice
- Experiencing emotional intimacy
- Taking milk and cookie breaks
- Planting a herb garden
- Eating fresh fruit
- Donating used clothes to a women’s shelter
- Hosting a dinner party
- Washing my car (and feeling blessed to have a car to wash)
- Listening to live music
- Celebrating with dear friends and family
- Feeling our tiny baby move inside of me
- Realigning my business with my values
What’s on your JOY LIST? Start keeping track of the moments that hold deeper meaning for you and how they help you access more joy in your life. I’d love to see what you come up with and invite you to share your favorite joyful activities with me via email or on social media.
Create a great day,