We tend to think of feeling joy when things are going well.

And of course it’s easy to be joyful when life is good.

However I’ve discovered that in truth instead of joy being something we experience when things are going well – joy is actually something which comes from within – and it’s like a muscle we can strengthen.

That means we can be joyful each and every day regardless of what is going on in our outside world.

To do so requires 2 things:

  1. A shift in perspective
  2. A change in priorities

A shift in perspective

 

We have to look for the joy in EVERYTHING.

I see life as a gift.

We do not deserve life, nor should we feel that life “owes” us.

Instead we get to experience life – its beauty, its joy, its sorrow, its heartache, its laughter, its magic, its….

And whatever happens is supporting us on our own unique journey through life.

For years I felt my life was lousy, that I was useless and I was never going to get where I wanted to go.  I’d regularly want to curl up on the sofa and have the world stop!

But when I shifted my perspective and started seeing life as a beautiful, unfolding, story I was able to see that the years of frustration and angst were totally necessary:

  1. a) to give me the commitment and energy I needed to seek a way out and
  2. b) to give me a wonderful life story – that stark contrast of before and after.

I could never experience the deep joy I now feel had I not also experienced the deep lows of frustration and despair.  In the same way we can only see light in darkness; and stars in the night sky.

It became a daily practice for me to look for the joy in every situation – or to look at what my current challenges were teaching me, or how they might be supporting me on my overall life journey.

How could you see your own challenges and difficulties differently if you imagine they’re part of your overall life story and they’re essential to what’s next?  What gifts are they giving you?

 

A change in priorities

A shift in perspective is great – but that will only get us so far.  This second one is absolutely CRUCIAL.

We must prioritise our joy.

Each and every day we need to do something which lights us up.  One of our natural human tendencies is to think that things will shift when our circumstance change – we’ll be able to have that wonderful holiday when we’re earning more, we’ll spend time with our loved ones when things are more stable at work.

And then just as we have enough money to pay for a holiday our car breaks down – and the holiday once again gets pushed into the future.  That family time we were so looking forward to gets delayed because something urgent comes up at work.

To stop these things happening we need to stop focusing on the future and “when …. then …” and instead look at the here and now.

And that means looking at the little things in our everyday life!

What small changes can we make that will make a HUGE difference?

These will often be so small that they seem insignificant and not worth doing – but they SHIFT EVERYTHING.

Some of the things that give me joy are:

  • A golden hour – time to myself before the house wakes up – to give me space to wake up slowly, to journal, to write and simply be.
  • Making tea in a pot and drinking it out of a beautiful china cup gifted by a dear friend.  It makes more washing up as it required a teapot, cup and saucer, milk jug and tray instead of just a mug.  But it gives me such joy – especially that first cup of the day.
  • Fresh flowers – whenever I see fresh flowers in a room they fill my heart with joy
  • The scent of a garden rose
  • Being out in nature and watching the seasons change day by day
  • Sunshine on my face
  • Swimming (especially outdoors – but only when it’s warm!)
  • Hugs from my family
  • My husband’s laugh
  • My daughter’s joy
  • My son’s wisdom
  • A beautiful Christmas tree
  • Outdoor lights
  • A freshly cut lawn
  • Nourishing others
  • Clean sheets
  • The first snowdrops
  • Writing – journaling, blogging, making lists (did I honestly just say writing lists! – that’s a first!)
  • Reading – especially novels

I could go on and on.

But as you can see my list includes nothing out of the ordinary – they’re everyday things I’ve come to love and appreciate as I’ve spent the past few years prioritising joy.

Instead of looking at everything that was not right, how far I had to go, I would ask myself “what lights me up” – and I’d change the things I could.

In summer I cut roses from my garden and bring them into the house.

I get up at 6am to give me my golden hour (well apart from weekends because I still love a lie in)

I prioritise family time

Of course there’s always another layer of joy to discover.  As I wrote my list I realised that there are areas that give me joy that I’m not prioritising (like family time and a beautiful – tidy – home) so that will be my focus in 2019 (starting today of course)

What are the things you can change today to give yourself the Gift of Joy?

Do share in the comments.