Have you been struggling to feel JOYful lately? Let’s face it, most of us have been challenged in some way this past year. Many clients we speak with are anxious, overworked, stressed and wondering what will become of all the world issues at the moment. But, do we have to stay in this place or is it our choice?
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“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy.” ~ Ralph Marston
Yes, happiness is our choice. Repeat again, happiness is our choice. We can choose to be happy and JOYful at any time. Good news, it’s up to us! Bad news, it takes work and daily effort. But, we can keep making the choice to be happy and JOYful. Here are five key steps to help you along your way.
5 steps to reclaim your JOY:
1. Stay active. Having a daily practice of exercise and physical movement naturally enhances your mood. Research has shown that after 20 or 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that interact with receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. It also releases other mood-enhancing chemicals like serotonin and dopamine that can stick around in your brain for a couple of hours after you exercise.
2. Live in the moment. We need to live more in the moment. Living in the moment, also called mindfulness, is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. According to a pioneer in the field, Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is a mental practice of remaining present in the moment in a nonjudgmental way.
When you become mindful, you realize you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. This allows you to be free of attaching to any particular thought, thereby reducing your suffering. The way we look at our thoughts or perceive them is in essence what produces our suffering.
3. Embrace your inner child. No one gets through childhood without some degree of emotional wounding, although some may be in denial about this. It does not have to be something huge either…sometimes just something someone said (a teacher, parent or coach) that left us feeling “less than.” If we stay blind to these past hurts, they have a way of unconsciously ruling us.
Our inner child lives in our unconscious mind. It influences how we make choices, respond to challenges, and live our lives.
We have to feel the emotions in order to heal and not carry that pain with us. Embracing this pain and being vulnerable enough to feel and even share the experience allows us to be seen, heard and validated for who we truly are. Then we can step out of the shadow of living in the pain/shame of someone else’s disappointment. We come to realize the truth of who we are, and that brings immeasurable JOY.
“Stop trying to ‘fix’ yourself; you’re not broken!
You are perfectly imperfect and powerful beyond measure.”
4. Create something. Nothing brings us closer to a feeling of JOY, happiness and satisfaction than creating something of our own. What is your creative outlet? Is it playing guitar, designing something with your hands, writing, drawing, singing, dancing?
Drawing, painting, or molding objects from clay has been scientifically proven to help people deal with different kinds of trauma. In a comprehensive article on “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health,” Heather L. Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel say that “[a]rt helps people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words, such as a diagnosis of cancer.”
5. Spend time in nature. This one is so powerful, we created a separate blog covering how nature gives us greater focus and balance. Numerous studies show the mental health benefits of being in nature. Nature walks benefit people suffering from depression (Shern et al., 2014). Studies show that people suffering from mild to major depressive disorders showed significant mood enhancements when exposed to nature. Not only that, but they also felt more motivated and energized to recover and get back to normalcy (Berman, Kross, Kaplan, 2012). Being in nature removes all the blocks to wellness and helps us feel connected to all of the earth. It’s hard to walk amongst the trees and not feel a deep sense of wonder and awe at their beauty and what storms they’ve weathered to get to where they are today. It reminds us to persevere and know there’s a season for everything and our lives are no different. Need help reconnecting to the JOY within? We are here for you. We’re a support system for ALL our clients. Our goal is to help you to succeed and thrive in all areas important to you. We help you create greater balance, peace and calm in your life.
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