Don’t Worry, Be Joyful

Most dictionaries make little distinction between “joy” and “happiness.” Psychologists, philosophers and religious leaders have spent centuries to research these two concepts.

They have identified some factors that affect happiness: relationships and social interaction, marital status, employment, socio-economic status, health, democratic freedom, optimism, endorphins (happy hormones) released through physical exercise and – wait for it – eating chocolate, religious activity, income and proximity to happy people.

If you look at the list, you’ll see that these are all external factors that are subject to change and may even be out of our control entirely. That means happiness can be short-lived and is at most a superficial (albeit pleasant) emotion that comes and goes with changing circumstances.

Joy, on the other hand, is a deep-rooted, soul-centred attitude that we can consciously choose.

If I injure my ankle and cannot do any exercise, I may feel frustrated, and even a bit depressed about the situation. But I don’t have to allow this incident to affect my entire existence and lose my joy. Joy comes from within and doesn’t depend on external circumstances.

Joy is not a destination, it’s a way of travelling.

Jumpstart Your Joy

If joy is a way of living, the result of a conscious decision regardless of circumstances, it follows that you find it … in yourself! Easier said than done? Try these strategies to jumpstart your joy:

  • Drop the guilt. Are you still carrying the burden of past mistakes, imperfections and oversights? This will weigh you down and chip away at your self-image. You will never be perfect! Accept it and move on. See every new day as a new opportunity to give whatever you’re doing, your best shot.
  • Leave the past behind. It is gone and cannot be changed. Focus on what you have or can do today. Don’t let yesterday’s clouds make you miss today’s sunshine.
  • Face the future. Are you afraid of tomorrow? Guess what: That won’t stop tomorrow from coming! But it will stop you from making the best of it. Even if the future seems gloomy, meet every new day with joy and good expectations. And just watch that day brighten!
  • Stop asking “Why me?” A victim mentality traps you in a negative situation and paralyses your ability to overcome the setback. Victors ask: “How do I turn this situation around?” Focus on the outcome, not on your misery.
  • Distinguish between a moment in life and life itself. Things do go wrong but put it in perspective. If it doesn’t affect your entire life or pervade your future existence, but it down to size and regain your joy.
  • Be grateful. Have you ever met a bitter person who is thankful or a thankful person who is bitter?
  • Focus on the positive. What you focus on is what will increase in your life. Instead of wishing for things you don’t have, discover the joy of focusing on what you do have. What have you already accomplished? What are you good at? Whom do you have in your life? What good things have you experienced?

The cost of living without joy is huge. Can you really afford it?

From the book “Taking You Beyond.” If you’d like to order a copy, please click here.