“Let your joy be in your journey—not in some distant goal.” —Tim Cook
It's no secret that life is full of hardships. We all go through difficult seasons filled with internal turmoil and unrest — where we feel like we're just trying to survive. It's easy to let these tough times consume us, and before we know it, our entire outlook on life has changed for the worse. But it doesn't have to be that way. Instead of letting the tough times dictate our lives, we can cultivate joy by noticing the beauty of life’s little moments. So if you're feeling down and out, here are a few ways to start cultivating joy in your life today.
Integrate mindfulness and gratitude practices into your routine: Take a walk in nature, practice meditation, and most importantly, consciously try to accept situations that are outside of your control. Invest time and effort in a morning routine that includes setting an intention for the day with an appreciation for what you often take for granted. Put down on paper at least three things you are grateful for in your life... Count your blessings, so to speak, and soon you'll feel a bit more hopeful overall.
Nourish and nurture the relationships and connections in your life: We all know the importance of relationships. But, sometimes, we can be so busy working on our careers and trying to maintain a perfect life that these building blocks for happiness get lost in translation! Studies show that people who have solid bonds tend to feel happier and live longer lives than those without such a support system...Invest in deepening the quality of your connections. The next time you’re missing a friend or family member, reach out and let them know you’re thinking about them.
Take time to notice and enjoy simple and mundane moments throughout your day: It isn’t difficult to find magic in the little things if you take the time to be fully present and notice... Relish every sip of that cup of your morning coffee, soak up the sunshine through your window, and enjoy the relaxing sensations of a hot, steaming shower. When you take the time to enjoy simple and mundane moments throughout your day, it can help reduce stress. This repetition will create a sense that everything is going well in life, so even when something doesn't go according to plan or expectations, there's still hope for tomorrow!
Resist comparing yourself to others: Comparison is the thief of joy. If you think that life is a competition, then it’s only natural for comparison to creep into your thoughts and take away any sense of joy. The truth is - the things we tend to compare ourselves to aren’t really real as life isn’t edited, filtered, and carefully curated, and no one ever lives their perfect story without some mistakes along the way! We know this. But at the same time, we can’t help but compare our perfectly imperfect lives to someone else’s social media feed. The next time you feel envy arising for someone else, recognize it and remind yourself that the success of others doesn’t take away from your potential.
You can also try channeling the practice of vicarious joy, which involves embracing pleasure in the good fortune of others. Whenever you feel jealousy surfacing, pause, close your eyes, envision the happiness that the other individual is experiencing, and remind yourself that being joyful isn’t just about you; it’s about compassion for our collective humanity and that everyone is on their own path.
Connection and joy are two of the most important things we can cultivate in our lives, especially when times are tough. I hope the ideas in this post have given you some tools to help you stay connected and find moments of joy, even during difficult times. I encourage you to explore what practices resonate the most with you and set the intention to incorporate joy into your everyday life. Also, what are some ways that you have found to connect with others and experience joy? Please share them in the comments below.