How to Cultivate More Joy in the New Year
The new calendar year is an invitation to leave behind old ways of thinking and being, and step into a new world of possibility and joy. Make 2019 your most joyful year yet by taking intentional steps, and cultivating mindful habits, that help your mind expand into a place of peace, contentment and happiness. Here’s what science says can help you immediately feel more joy today.
1. Do Good Unto Others, And You Will Have Goodness Done Unto You and Within You
When you help others, and you do good for the sake of doing good, you experience what Maria Baltazzi, PhD, calls a helper's high: "a euphoria that happens when you do charitable deeds." (1)
“The psychological theory being that giving, [and] acts of kindness, produce a natural mild version of a morphine high,” says Baltazzi. And it doesn’t matter what you’re doing exactly, whether it’s walking a friend’s dog when your friend is sick, or going abroad to dig wells in an impoverished, drought-stricken town.
“Help can come in every size and shape, big or small,” says Baltazzi. “The size, or the amount, of help is not so much the point as is the gesture of genuinely wanting to help. The emphasis being on the ‘genuine’ part. On the receiver end, when you help someone, that person picks up on, and are touched by, your heartfelt offer to help, no matter what it is for. They feel greater comfort and less stress. The giver, the helper, in turn, experiences a profound sense of satisfaction, of joy, of delight, of happiness, which decreases their stress levels as well.”
2. Rewire Your Mind With Gratitude
Your thoughts are powerful, and the thoughts and mindsets that you regularly engage in directs your focus and your energy, which in turn influences your actions, which in turn create concrete results that feed your mindset and either reinforce or discourage a particular way of thinking.
In other words, to feel more joy, you must THINK more joy. Practicing gratitude is one of the most beneficial and effective ways of shifting your perspective on life, seeing more of the goodness and blessings in your life, and then acting from a place of “feeling blessed” so that you experience and see more blessings in your life.
Try journaling or expressing verbally about one to three things you are grateful for every day. The key is that each day, you must list out three more unique things that you didn’t say the previous day. This encourages you to begin to creatively and actively seek out the joyful blessings in your life, which in turn create more grateful, joyful thought patterns.
3. Live Your Truth
“Joy comes from a place of honoring and living your truth or, in other words, being your most authentic self,” writes Rachelle Williams at Deepak Chopra’s Chopra Center. (2) “It takes courage to be the person you are, especially when there may be pressure to live a life that you think others want you to have. It may require getting through some tough challenges. Stand your ground, be true to who you are, and come out the other end feeling less burdened and able to enjoy life with less struggle.”
One of the best ways to do this is by practicing self-compassion, and learning to LOVE everything about yourself. Often, we are told to accept ourselves, but acceptance is not the same as a celebration of your identity, your value, your unique experiences and your personal goals.
Celebrate who you are, and work on releasing the labels you’ve placed on yourself, or that the media, your family or society have placed on you. As you live authentically, follow your gut and do what makes you happy, you’ll release a lot of the shame and guilt that comes from trying to fit a mold that isn’t truly you. And being truly you is the seat of all joy.
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