I realized that it had been a long, long time since I had consciously engaged with JOY.
Don’t get me wrong, I have snippets of joy in my life every day– like when I go in to get my always-giggling son out of his crib in the morning, or when my daughter sings Let It Go at the top of her lungs with her own invented lyrics.
(Kids are joy-factories, par excellence.)
What I realized I was missing, though, was joy that I was cultivating for myself.
The kind of joy that allows me to take pleasure in work and in life, because I know that I am creating exactly what I want in both arenas.
The kind of joy that allows me to rise in the morning and go to bed at night in a state of calm, smiling appreciation for the journey that is my life.
I’ve been missing out on that state for quite some time now– like maybe a couple of years. And my health and my well-being have suffered for it.
And with good reason.
The best counterbalance to stress is joy. (tweet this)
And if you can find a way to consciously create joy in your everyday experience, it will change your life.
Here’s three easy ways to bring joy into your life on a daily basis.
1) Get up early and enjoy the silence.
I have always appreciated rising early and sitting still to start the day, but it’s been awfully hard for me to do that for the last few years because, well, toddlers.
This morning, however, after both kids (thank you, thank you, thank you) slept through the night, I woke up on my own at 5:45 a.m. and decided to just get out of bed.
I made coffee. I did a few yoga poses. And then I did something miraculous.
I watched the sunrise.
And if you think that having that experience alone, on your couch, in the silent still of morning isn’t joyful, I probably can’t help you.
This week, get up early and take a few moments of solitude and silence to start your day. Joy arises in those moments, inevitably, and you’ll find the rest of your day is more peaceful as well.
2) Curate your space.
Yesterday, I was blessed to spend the day with this amazing woman, who photographed me all day long for my new venture. The day was like stepping into a portal, not just because I was out of my usual schedule and element, but also because of the space in which we shot.
It was a small loft, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in a building that literally has its own beach on the East River. If you’re quiet enough, you can hear the waves. Magical doesn’t even begin to describe it.
But as I began to interact with the space– a rented apartment shared with my photographer by some friends– I was struck by how every single thing within it was beautiful, and how every single thing within it was so obviously chosen by the owners to be there. Everything within it looked like it belonged there, rather than anywhere else.
To say that it was the most soothing space I’ve ever occupied for eight hours is probably not an overstatement.
And I was joyously relaxed within it the entire time.
It got me thinking about how long it has been since I have thoughtfully applied the mantra that I used to apply every day to my home:
Nothing Which Is Not Beautiful. (tweet this)
Think about it: if you surrounding yourself daily ONLY with things you loved, from the tiniest teacup to the biggest sofa, how different would you feel? How much joy would enter your life on a daily basis?
Curate your space to create more joy. It works, trust me.
3) Appreciate what is.
Much has been written in the last few years about gratitude practices and their benefits. I’ve been known to assign couples I’ve worked with to a gratitude practice each night, whereby they say three things they’re most grateful for about the other person. I’ve also asked clients to document for a week or a month at a time three things that have gone well each day, regardless of stress or other negative influences. These practices can make a huge difference.
However, what I want to point you toward today is something a bit more subtle. I’d like to encourage you to open your eyes and look around every single day at the world you occupy, and consciously choose, at least three times a day, to say a silent thank you for something you appreciate within it.
We spend so much time these days staring at smart phones, or computer screens, or televisions, that choosing to look up and look around has become a radical practice.
Opening up to beauty that surrounds you and expressing silent gratitude for what you see that pleases you is also a radical way to open up your heart to joy.
Try it for seven days, and I bet you’ll find that you find more joy in the everyday than you possibly could have imagined, simply by being present to what surrounds you.
In toddler sleep practices (about which I am now skilled), there’s a saying: sleep begets sleep. Let you kid sleep more at naptime, and they will sleep more at night. Let your kid rest when they need to, and they will rest better all night long.
I’d like to leave you with a similar thought on today’s topic, namely the idea that joy begets more joy.
There is no limit to the joy that is available to you in life. The only limit is your capacity to receive it, and that limit is within your own control.
At any moment when you feel your heart closing down to joy, remind yourself: I deserve this. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be joyful. I deserve to love my life.
If there is one practice above all that has the capacity to dramatically change your life, it is opening your heart to receive joy.
Go there this week. It will make your life more beautiful, more calm and more willing.
Wishing you a week of loving your life.
All the best,
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