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Advice on Seeking Out Joy in Difficult Times

With all that’s going on right now, it’s hard to find the joy in the world. There’s so much grief in the air that moments of joy are like lightning bolts through the clouds. They might not be profound moments, but they indeed remind us of what’s missing. Here's some advice on leaning in to your joy.

With all that’s going on right now, it’s hard to find the joy in the world. There’s so much grief in the air that moments of joy are like lightning bolts through the clouds. They might not be profound moments, but they indeed remind us of what’s missing. 

Gloom and grief harm our mental and physical health, so I decided to seek out those moments of joy and lightness. Here are a few ways you can seek out that light and trigger more joy in your life right now.

Think of What Makes You Happy

To start, let’s get a bit philosophical. Dig down and take a moment to think of what makes you happy or what brings you peace. Think of the behaviors and perspectives that bring you the most satisfaction. 

For example, is it running or hiking that works for you? What about teaching someone something new? Or volunteering your time? Or getting a hit of your favorite smell or perfume? 

Each of these things is intensely personal and can help you find that happy place or feeling we’re craving right now. 

Distinguish Happiness from Joy

Continuing that thread, it’s also essential to note the difference between happiness and joy. Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, described the difference in her Ted Talk as, “Happiness measures how good we feel over time. Joy is about feeling good in the moment.” Several moments of joy can lead to happiness, so think about the micro-moments that trigger joy for you. 

Then, lean in. 

4 Ways to Trigger Joy

And just how can you lean into your joy when we’re mostly stuck inside right now, especially if yours need you to go outside or be somewhere else? 

No worries, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the fun stuff you can do from anywhere.

1. Check out your local zoo or aquarium

With no guests in the way, caretakers from the Shadd Aquarium in Chicago decided to let the penguins out on a field trip through the museum. 

There was Edward, Wellington, and Anna strolling through the Polar Play Zone. The next week, Wellington went to meet the beluga whales, and after that, they brought in a Tyson the porcupine to meet the penguins. 

Many other zoos and aquariums are doing the same, so check them out online to see if they’ve organized fun field trips for the animals. 

2. Brighten Your Day Through Color

Get some more color in your life by checking out #flowersofinstagram on social media. There are so many different garden centers, gardeners, flower lovers, and florists out there sharing their favorite blooms. You can’t help but smile and enjoy the moment. 

3. “Be” With People Who Bring You Joy

While you might not be able to be physically in the same room, the point is to surround yourself with people who are positive and help lift your mood. Right now, you can always schedule a video chat with someone to see their smiles or just reach out by phone or text. That works just as well. 

4. Engage Your Senses

For me, that means inhaling fresh coffee grounds. For you, it might be the air after it rains or a particular perfume or cologne. Smell is one of the most powerful senses for affecting our moods, so boost yours by filling yours up with your favorite one. 

Another way to engage your senses is to play your favorite music or sound. (I once heard someone online mention that the sound of her MacBook sending something to the trash bin filled her with such joy, so to each their own!) Pull out your favorite tune or podcast and bask in the moment. 

Protect What Brings You Joy

The final step of finding and leaning into joy is protecting it. Each of our joys is so personal, making them susceptible to outside forces, like a busy work schedule or forced quarantine period. You need to learn how to protect them from these influences so you can find your joy whenever you need to, in good times and bad. It’s our joyful habits that will keep us in good mental and physical health, so get fiercely protective of your joy.

If you’re working from home or have limited time because you’re an essential worker, block off time in your schedule for “joy time.” Make sure your family and those around you know that you need this time for yourself and that they shouldn’t bother you. 

Joy seems to be in short supply right now, so it might seem like a big challenge to seek it out. Yet it can impact our mental and physical health, so we remember to experience it. 

So, go seek out those moments of joy and sink into them. You’ll feel much better once you do.

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