It can be easy to feel joyful when there is something amazing happening in your life… maybe a vacation, a new grandchild, a promotion or a fun outing with friends. But what about when life feels hum-drum and routine? How can we find moments of joy in our everyday life?
Appreciate the little things
It’s easy to float through life without thinking much about the small parts of our day. However, spend some time thinking about little things that you appreciate. It could be a cup of hot coffee in the morning, a song you haven’t heard in a while on the radio, how your dog’s tail wags when she greets you or simply the scent of your favorite lotion. Appreciating these things can literally take just a few seconds of reflection, but they can brighten your day and make every moment feel a little more special.
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Connect with others
Is there someone you haven’t heard from in a while? Or maybe a relative who could always make you smile? Reach out to those people and connect with them. Technology makes this easier than ever. Dropping a line via text or social media can make it simple to just say, “Hey, let’s get coffee next Thursday” or “Remember that time we couldn’t stop laughing?” Even saying hello to someone on the street or waving to a neighbor can be a connection and perk you up.
Find your meaning
Scholars have been pondering the meaning of life for as long as humans have existed. You don’t have to solve the entire philosophical quandary, but you can start to find your own personal reason for what makes your life meaningful. Think about the things that “start your engine” and make you feel alive. Think about the times you’ve felt happiest in your life or times when you’ve felt most connected. You might find that you find meaning in making memories with loved ones, serving your community, learning talents and skills, making artwork or exploring new places. Whatever you find brings you joy, slowly try to add more of that to your life!
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Make room for passion
Do you have a hobby that you’ve had trouble making time for? Consider spending just 15 minutes a day revisiting that previous passion. Everyone has something that they just love to do! Give yourself the time and opportunity to explore that passion again. Allow yourself to play with paints, draft your novel, cook great recipes, build a shed or bookshelf, or whatever else you might have forgotten brought you joy.
Spend time in nature
Study upon study has shown that being in nature (like many of the incredible places within the PA Wilds!) can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, anger and sadness. Fresh air can generate many positive emotions, such as calmness, joy and creativity. One study found that people especially benefited from having more than 120 minutes of outdoor time per week. Whether it’s a trip to see the elk, a hike in the woods, a visit to your local park, a night of stargazing or simply a walk around the block, spending time in nature brings us joy!
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Laughter is truly the best medicine! Laughter can be contagious, and so can joy. Just like the benefits of nature, the benefits of laughter are well studied. When we laugh, we release endorphins into our body that can offer natural pain relief. A good “LOL” can also boost your immune system and reduce stress. Even if (or especially if) you’re not feeling so jovial, seek out sources of laughter: funny videos, comedy shows, silly animals or a hilarious friend.
Reflect and find gratitude
Quiet meditation or a simple moment of reflect can help you find the things that make you grateful. Gratitude can be one of the strongest bases of joy and happiness. When we appreciate what we have and find gratitude, the negativity in our lives tends to quiet down. Set a timer for one minute and try listing off all of the things that make you grateful for who you are, where you live, the things you have and the people you know. Better yet, write them down! Even if you are naturally a positive person, making time to be intentionally grateful for things can bring extra joy and peace to your life.
Volunteer and help
Want to help yourself? Then help others! Volunteering can counteract the effects of stress, anxiety and anger. Focusing on others can bring a sense of gratitude for what you have and a better sense of connection to the world at large. Beyond doing a good deed, volunteering can also be a social event. Working alongside others and collaborating can bring additional positive effects. Even if you volunteer alone (such as picking up trash in your neighborhood or using your skills online for a non-profit organization), it feels good to do good.
Get out of your comfort zone
Every once in a while, do something that makes you a little uncomfortable… in a good way. Is there something that you’re slightly scared to do but have always wanted to say that you’ve accomplished? Maybe it’s camping overnight somewhere, trying an intriguing new food, doing public speaking, wearing a flashy outfit or jewelry, ziplining, talking to a stranger, selling your artwork or learning a new language. It can be hard to take that leap of faith, but giving yourself that extra push to leave your comfort zone can be so worthwhile.
Very much like how appreciating the little things can bring you joy, simply being present in your day-to-day life can bring you happiness. Live in the moment, kind of like an animal would! When you’re talking with someone, don’t glance down at your phone. When you’re walking your dog, watch them sniff and explore instead of mentally making your grocery list. When you’re eating lunch, truly savor it instead of trying to work at your desk at the same time. Wherever you are in this moment, be present for it. Remember, you only have this exact moment once!
Taking small steps and choosing to find joy can help direct you to a more positive place and help you appreciate each day!