Finding Joy in the New Year
With the new year just around the corner, what are you envisioning for yourself in coming year? Before you sit down to write out your New Year’s resolutions – don’t forget to add joy to the list!
Often times people set New Year’s resolutions that center around making dramatic or highly noticeable changes in one’s life. These resolutions might be practical, such as organizing your garage as well as fixing your garage door, getting in different physical shape, or becoming more productive. Even so, the majority of people end up abandoning their New Year’s resolutions within 6 months.
What if instead we aimed for something simple yet more fulfilling? Rarely do people consider more basic goals like increasing the joy in their life. But studies show that people who focus on adding more meaningful activities to their life have a higher increase in happiness than those who add more pleasurable activities to their life.
Jump Start Your Joy
With all the difficulties and curveballs that life presents to us, it’s important to embrace the small moments of light and laughter as they come. Let’s take a look at some easy ways to spark joy quickly, and a couple other meditative exercises to help connect with a deep sense of joy over the long term.
Here are some simple ways to increase joy in your life:
Spending time with loved ones:
Studies have shown that the people who had the biggest increase in joy were those who committed to spending more time with people they loved. There’s a direct correlation between one’s outlook and the amount of time they spend with those who love them. While it’s impressive to have goals around money or productivity, aiming to improve your connection with those who make you smile will add to your life in more ways than one.
Committing to a healthier lifestyle, but without being strict:
Instead of giving yourself limitations or strict guidelines (i.e. I will quit desserts, I have to lose 20 pounds) instead focus on a few light goals centered around wellness and adding joy.
Examples include committing to walking outside 5 days a week or making a pledge to eat more natural foods as opposed to processed foods. These seemingly small commitments won’t take long but will have a noticeable impact on your outlook in life.
Find Out What Brings *You* Joy?
If eating whole foods and spending time with others isn’t feeling like enough, it might be good to take some time to yourself and find out what truly brings you joy. What unmet needs might be missing from your life.
Some experts suggest embarking on a “joy quest” to further understand what brings you joy. Even if you have the idea to add more joy to your life, it will be difficult to do so without knowing what makes you actually feel joyful. This will not be the same for everyone. What activities or people make you feel warm and bright? Often these will be aligned with our ideals and our higher purpose.
“Joy doesn’t come naturally a lot of times. You have to cultivate the time and space for joy. It’s important to have an outline, vision, and game plan for how you can bring more joy into your life,” says joy strategist Erica Lasan, “Because when life is coming hard, you need to have a road map you can refer back to. Think of this as your North Star of what joy means to you.”
One of the quickest methods to discovering what brings you joy is through journaling. Spending quiet time reflecting on life and what works for you and what doesn’t will quickly help uncover what makes you feel joy versus what doesn’t. Try writing in a journal for a half an hour a day 4 times a week to get in touch with a deeper side of yourself. Don’t judge your writing or thoughts, just try to connect with yourself on a deeper level.
Another way to flesh out your definition of joy is by making a vision board. These can be created out of photographs you find online or in magazines. Ideally you combine your hopes, ideals and goals with images that outline the life you want for yourself. There are many ways to go about it, check here for some ideas. These visuals can help serve as a reminder of the direction you’d like to be aimed toward, and seeing them every day is a loving way to steer yourself in that direction.
Learn Something New
Another surefire way to find new and unexpected ways to joy is through learning something new. Are there any hobbies or skills you’ve wanted to learn but have never made the time for? Maybe this is the year you begin something new. Start small and commit a half an hour a day two or three times a week. Not only will this add joy but it will also keep your brain agile and active.
Give It All a Purpose
No matter how you decide to pursue joy, make sure it is aligned with a purpose that speaks to you. One of the most important takeaways is that the joy we feel is often tightly linked to what gives us a sense of purpose. If you can define in what ways you feel purpose, it will be easy to cultivate joy within those areas of your life.
And if you’re still not feeling joy- it’s back to the vision board.
Happy New Year and Happy Joyful You.