How many things are you looking forward to? Is your monthly calendar leaning more toward dreaded appointments or fun events you can’t wait to attend? While life is filled with things we have to do (pay taxes and go to the dentist) you can also take charge and fill it up with things that bring you joy! When you wake up and know you have a whole slew of things to look forward to, it can brighten your outlook and mood. If you want to have a smile on your face more often, here are some tips so you can plan your way to joy!
Think about your joy. Take yourself off auto pilot. If you are like many people, you probably have a routine to your day. You’ve got a good idea how your day will unfold and most days it’s a challenge to pack everything into a 24 hour period. It’s natural to develop a routine, but it’s not healthy if you don’t stop to consider if you are enjoying yourself. If you think your role is to run around doing things for others while never doing anything for you, it may be time to rethink your role and think about your joy. Ignoring yourself for the sake of others may seem selfless, but consider these two things: 1) you are teaching people that you (your needs) aren’t important, and 2) you could be putting your own health in jeopardy if you are running yourself ragged. You can’t take care of anyone else effectively if you don’t first take care of you—so think about your level of joy.
Don’t postpone your joy. Lots of people sell themselves on the belief that there will be time to really enjoy life later. But later never comes. There will always be stuff that has to get done, little details to take care of and growing to do lists. It’s not like you wake up one day and there’s a blank slate and you suddenly have an epiphany that it’s time to start living with joy. As a matter of fact, this is the one I am most guilty of. I used to tell my husband that we will have time to be more social once the kids are out of the house… Well, the kids are out of the house and life isn’t any slower. As a matter of fact, it’s busier. So my goal is now to spend more time with my husband and my girlfriends instead of waiting until it’s too late. You have to get joy on your schedule. As the saying goes, “What gets scheduled; gets done.” Get your joy done!
Make a list of the big and little things. Take about 15 minutes and list as many things that bring you joy as you can think of—large and small. Maybe it’s taking a trip with your family, going to a sporting event, seeing a Broadway show or going on a running tour. Brainstorm and don’t discount the little stuff that brings you joy, like getting some work done in the bustle of a coffee shop, reading the newspaper with your feet up, taking a walk with your dog, having 30 minutes to take a midday power nap or seeing a movie with your spouse. List everything that pops in your head.
Related: 9 Proven Ways To Be Happier
Schedule in advance. Once you identify your list of joys, get ‘em on your schedule. If you buy tickets now for a concert or trip six months down the road—you have something exciting to look forward to and you can build on your schedule from there. I recently went to the Janet Jackson concert with girlfriends. I had it on the calendar for months! The day came and it was a less than perfect night out for me to go out, but the concert was totally amazing and worth every minute of joy. So schedule things on your calendar in the short- and long-term. Sure, you may not need to schedule reading the newspaper, or taking a bike ride, but you can sync up schedules with your spouse so you each get more time to do the things you enjoy, especially if you are juggling kids too.
Notice the little things. One way to naturally increase your joy is to live more mindfully, focused on the present moment. Try to notice everything you love—whether it’s the beautiful fall colors, the smell of your coffee brewing (oh, how I love my coffee!), a delicious and healthy recipe you whipped up, a friend that speaks to your heart, or how great you feel after a tough workout. You can teach yourself to live in a state of gratitude just by paying attention to everything you enjoy and not letting it all fly by you. If you find you are having a difficult time capturing your little moments of joy throughout your day, keep a little notebook with you and jot down your gratitude. It really can alter your mood when you train yourself to focus on the positive. You may even surprise yourself with all the things you love about your life.
Realize that your health and your joy are connected. Your one body is the only place you have to live. If you aren’t healthy, it’s difficult to truly connect to your joy. When you skip exercise or stop paying attention to how you are eating, you start feeling badly, right? Your clothes are uncomfortable, you can tell you have gained weight and it negatively impacts your mood. When you decide to get that workout in, you feel super charged, excited about your dedication and motivated to do more. Your joy is closely connected with your health and your health is closely connected to those daily decisions. Choose joyfully!