10 ways to cultivate joy.
Ten Ways to Cultivate Joy
What is joy? Is it reliant on externals? Is it sourced in your spouse? Is it tied into how much money you make? Is it grounded in God? There are many answers to this question. These are the ten that I found to work in my life and in my counseling practice with others.
- Helping someone else succeed. One of the number one killers of joy is selfishness. When I think of only myself I tend to get worried, stressed out, angry, covetous, and a host of other negative emotions. Yes, I enjoy buying clothes for myself; eating a chocolate sundae; buying the latest i-pad app; drinking a glass of good wine. I'm not talking about the occasional self-centered splurge. That is healthy. I'm talking about total preoccupation with self. It can defile you. Take some time to help someone get ahead in life. It could be as simple as helping your daughter with her English home work. It could be helping a fellow office worker with their sales efforts. It could be encouraging a discouraged person find hope. There is something about helping others succeed that makes your life more rich and meaningful. Joy will grow as you sow good into other people.
- Get some fresh air and exercise. Walk for thirty minutes a day, jog a mile, swim ten laps, lift some weights, play some tennis, get off the computer and experience the sun and fresh air for a change. The endorphin surge will add to your total well being. You will sleep easier. Food will taste better. You will look better. Joy will proliferate as you increase your heart rate.
- Stay away from bitter people. I'm not saying to completely stay away from festering people. Just don't make them the predominant personality type you hang out with. There is a saying, "A bitter root defiles many." It truly does. Keep these kind of people at a bare minimum in your life. You will experience way more joy if you do.
- Hang out with joyful people. On the other side of the coin, joyful people are good for your soul and health. Joy is infectious. Joy will rub off on you as you fellowship with people who see the glass half full rather than half empty. They make you laugh. They make you smile. They make you like yourself.
- Give thanks and Let go of unforgiveness. Take some time each day to thank God for the beautiful creation around you. Thank your spouse for being the most awesome person in your life! Thank the McDonald's drive-thru person for blessing you with great service. Be thankful even though you don't feel like it. Just start living in a place of simple thankfulness. Watch how your mind will clear up. How you will see the silver lining in the clouds. Forgive those who hurt you. They don't have to be present. Just pray forgiveness. Your not doing it for them, but you are doing it for yourself. Release this burden and move into joy.
- Watch a movie with a happy ending. Yes, I know this is shallow, but it might be just the thing that gets you to a place of thankfulness. I watch It's a Wonderful Life every Christmas to get into the right spirit. I also watch Narnia, The Fellowship of the Ring, Heidi, and other great motivational classics to get me thinking positively again.
- Eat a balanced diet. A diet rich in sugar, fats, and salt contributes to sadness and depression. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and a little protein each day. Take some vitamin supplements, Drink a lot of water. Stay away from fast and processed food. You will feel better soon thereafter.
- Read Psalm 23 everyday. This classic work written by King David will breath strength and hope into your soul. Read it. Memorize it. Proclaim it over your life! Shout it over your home and neighborhood. Words have power. This Psalm will change the atmosphere in your life from negative to positive. It's a group of words that can transform your life if you believe it.
- Meditate on the Scriptures (Bible). Philippians 4:13 states, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Like a cow chewing the same piece of cud all day in order to get the most nutrients, ruminate on verses like this and watch your life change from sadness to nutritious joy. Psalm 1 shares that the person who meditates on Scripture will become like tree planted by streams of living water. They will continually have green leaves. They will bear fruit in season and out. The Holy Scriptures have power to change lives. Continually repeat this Psalm over and over in your head. Ask questions of it? Pray through it. Ask God to make it real in your life.
- Believe in God. One of the Psalms of the Old testament states, "All my springs of joy are in you" When you believe in God through believing in Christ, God comes to dwell in you through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). The Source of continual joy starts to work his powerful, supernatural ways in your heart. You also receive eternal life! That's grounds for eruptive joy to flow out of our lives. Please forgive me for being biased toward Christianity, but after I believed in God a deep level of joy started to grow in my heart. It didn't come over night. Little by little as I grew in my faith the supernatural joy started to increase. It worked. God works. He was good enough for me. I just said a simple prayer of belief in Jesus, and that started me on my journey into greater joy.
I hope this was helpful. Just practice these ten things and you will grow an oak tree of joy. It has helped me to grow in joy and happiness. It has helped others grow. Bless you.