Just think of how many choices you make in a day:
you choose what clothes to wear (sexy dress or Mom jeans…hmmm…)…
what food to put in your body (trust me, body, you’ll thank me for choosing spinach instead of ice cream someday)…
what music to listen to (when in doubt, disco never lets me down)…
how many hours to devote to work…the list is really endless.
Those are the choices about what to do. The other choice you make in each moment is how you react…to situations, to people, to the voices in your head telling you that you should have just made the choice to stay in bed this morning!
Close your eyes for a moment, and think about someone you know…someone who emulates joy. Visualize what that person does that is joyful…what they look like, what they say, and how others feel around him or her.
I believe that we can all choose joy. We cannot control other people, situations, and sometimes it’s difficult to control those pesky voices that are in our heads too. But we can control our joy.
Joy…it can be fostered to become a way of life, should you choose it. Even in the midst of a difficult day, I encourage you to do some (or all) of these things that can easily shift your perspective:
- Soften your face.
Often when we’re feeling stress and/or physical pain, the muscles in our faces tighten up. Pay particular attention to the jaw (is it clenched?) and eye area (are you squinting or furrowing your brow?).
Watch a silly video (babies and/or animals tend to evoke laughter easily). Send a quick text to someone who can always put a smile on your face. (Yeah, you know who you are, giver of crazy nicknames and sharer of inappropriate jokes)
- Pet an animal.
Studies show that simply petting a cat or dog can lower blood pressure. By sensing the joy a pet feels from this simple act (hearing your cat purr or the deep sigh of your dog), it will surely warm your heart.
- Focus on your breath.
Avoid trying to change it at first…just notice it. This very simple shift brings us back to “center”. Close your eyes and feel your body breathe. If you sense restriction or holding of the breath, consciously relax your muscles and let the belly expand. Gently lengthening your exhales so that they are a bit longer than your inhales encourages the relaxation response. The simple act of breathing gives us life…take joy in this simple act.
- Go for a walk.
Moving your body is good for the psyche. The forward-moving momentum creates a subconscious “push” to keep moving forward. Even a short walk to hand-deliver a message to someone rather than sending an in-office e-mail can help you feel better (unless you’re mad…in which case, go back to #4…and keep your middle finger DOWN should you decide to hand-deliver the message after all).
- Observe people.
Watch how families play together…how children respond to each other…even the interaction of strangers showing simple acts of kindness. PDA usually makes me giggle too, so there’s that.
- Enjoy nature.
Get outside on your lunch break, or go for a walk first thing in the morning, when the air is crisp. Nature connects us to our spiritual selves, and reminds us how interconnected all beings are.
- Read an inspirational quote.
Search “joy” online, and find a quote that speaks to you. Print it out, or write it on a piece of paper you can post in a prominent place.
- Listen to a favorite song.
Songs remind us of other times, places, and people. Choose one that speaks to you and makes you happy. Sing along, even! In your car, remember…you are the leader of the band (and the drummer, and the air guitar player…)!
- Savor something you love.
Maybe it’s a square of dark chocolate…a steaming latte…a glass of wine. Take the time to truly enjoy it.
- Reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, just to say hello.
This not only creates joy for you, but the person you’re saying hello to!
- Pay it forward.
Buy coffee or lunch for someone behind you at a drive-through window. This simple act, when passed on, can spread joy to many others…which you can’t help but feel good about.
This post is part of the FYB “31 Days to Quiet the Voices in Your Head” series.
Read more about it HERE.