How to Be Joyful

Three Methods:Cultivating Your JoyDoing Things that Make You JoyfulBringing Joy to Others

Everyone needs a little pick-me-up sometimes, but sometimes you also just need some joy. Being joyful and happy can be hugely beneficial to your health, including protecting your heart and lengthening your life.[1] It can also be a great way to reinforce your relationships in life,[2] but you might be confused about how to be joyful. By cultivating your joy, doing things that make you joyful, and bringing that joy to others, you can be joyful in your life.

Method 1
Cultivating Your Joy

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    Determine why you don’t feel joyful. You may realize that you find it difficult to feel joy. You may even frequently feel sad. If this is the case, take some time to figure out what is causing you to not feel joyful. Write these down and figure out how you can actively take steps to find your joy again.[3]
    • Be open and honest with yourself. Evaluate elements of your life such as your job, family situations, relationships with others, and your physical health.
    • Make a list of things that sap you of your joy and then ask, “What can I do to change this?” Then write an answer such as, “I’d be more joyful if I didn’t let my wife’s judgmental mother affect my mood.”
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    Address medical issues with a professional. If you realize that you feel more sadness than joy, you may have depression or another disorder such as anxiety. Schedule an appointment with your physician, who can recommend a treatment to help you find more joy than sadness.[4]
    • Let your doctor know about what you’re feeling. Be as honest as possible. Remember that your doctor is there to help you and you have nothing about which to be ashamed.
    • Ask questions about what treatment your doctor suggests to find joy again in your life. She may suggest visiting a psychiatrist or other mental health professional to undergo psychotherapy. Your may also get a prescription for an anti-depressant, which can increase serotonin, the hormone that contributes to happiness, in your brain.
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    Navigate relationships that sap you of joy. You may realize that personal and professional relationships contribute to you not feeling joyfulness. The individuals with whom we interact regularly can impact our attitudes, including the ability to feel joy. Limiting or removing anyone who saps you of joy can help you recapture your joy.[5]
    • Remove a person from your life completely if he is a considerable drain on your joy. You can do so with kindness by saying something to the person such as, “I value you, but I need a bit of a break.” You can choose how much detail you provide.
    • Choose to limit your exposure to the person if you can’t remove him entirely. You can easily do this by saying some like, “Thank you very much for the kind invitation but I unfortunately can’t make it.”
    • Counteract negative attitudes, comments, and viewpoints by reminding the person of the positive side of what he said. This could help you feel a little joy and may even cause the person to move on from you.
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    Find joy in difficult times. No person sails through life without difficulty. How you approach difficult times can have an effect on your overall mood. By seeking out joy during these difficult times, you may be able to find or retain joyfulness.[6]
    • Avoid embracing any anger and/or rage you may feel. Find a way to get through situations that cause these emotions constructively so that they don’t become chronic.
    • Surround yourself with supportive individuals. Sharing what you’re experiencing can cue them into finding ways to make you joyful and happy. Even reaching out on social media may help since the people you love often want nothing but your happiness.
    • Feel compassion and kindness towards other people and beings such as animals and plants. Doing something nice for others can bring you—and the person or being—joy and happiness.[7]
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    List what gives you joy. Having a good idea of what makes you joyful can actually bring you more joy. Reviewing a list of what makes you joyful every day can help you focus on what makes you happy. It can also offer a bright spot in times you may not be feeling especially joyful.[8]
    • Write out a list of anything that makes you joyful. It doesn’t have to be anything detailed or fancy. Simple things, such as “my family and I have a comfortable home and plenty to eat,” are excellent. You can also put fancier things, too. Something like a great dinner, massage, or your team winning the playoffs are things that might also bring you joy.
    • Keep your list in a handy place like your handbag or wallet. This ensures that you can pull it out at any time, especially if you need a ray of sunshine in your day.
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    Start your day off on the right foot. Mornings can often be the hardest part of your day. You have to get out of a cozy bed and face things like work or school. But starting off your day right with elements such as soothing sounds, a good breakfast, and repeating positive words to yourself can help you have a relaxed, healthy, and productive day.[9]
    • Wake up to soothing sounds instead of a jarring alarm.[10] Consider things like birds chirping or waves lapping up on the shore. Then repeat positive words to yourself such as, "Today is going to be a brilliant day," and, "I will have a really productive day.”
    • Establish some type of morning ritual so that you can leave your home with as little stress as possible. Your morning ritual could include things like having breakfast with your loved ones, taking a shower, or doing some gentle yoga.
    • Remember that eating a healthy breakfast can give you the energy and nutrients to get through your day. It also can keep you happy by preventing slumps in blood sugar.[11] Try a slice of whole wheat toast with some jam, a cup of Greek yogurt with fresh berries, and a cup of coffee or tea.
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    Move your body. Exercise and physical activity are powerful ways to increase the amount of serotonin, a mood-enhancing hormone, in your system.[12] Finding ways to move your body every day, such as a walk or swim, can help you stay joyful and be happy.
    • Get at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity or 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. Do exercises and activities that that you enjoy. Things like walking, hiking, running, yoga, swimming, or biking are a few example of what you can do. You can also do activities like jumping on a trampoline or with a rope. Even taking your dog outside to play works.[13]
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    Manage stress throughout the day. Stress can put a cramp in anyone’s joy and happiness.[14] Reducing any stress that confronts you can help you retain your joy throughout the day.[15]
    • Step away from any situation that causes you stress if you are able. A five or 10 minute break may do wonders for anyone involved. Use the time to take a short walk or something else you enjoy.
    • Try deep breathing for a few breaths for squeeze a rubbery stress ball if you cannot leave a situation that causes you stress.
    • Pull out your list of things that make you joyful to help diffuse your stress.

Method 2
Doing Things that Make You Joyful

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    Devote time to activities you love. Any time you do something you truly love, it probably brings joy to your heart and brightens your day. Actively schedule time every day or every weekend to do something you love so that you can be joyful and reduce stress.[16]
    • Check you list of things that bring you joy and figure out where you can fit them in your schedule. This may require actively carving out time in your day, even if it is only for 10 minutes, to do some yoga poses or grab a cup of coffee and read the paper.
    • Make sure to devote ample time to thing you love on days you have no responsibilities or commitments. The relaxation and joy from that day can easily carry over into days where you are feeling blue or stressed.
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    Find a hobby that you love. Not only can you find joy in things you already love, but you may also in a new hobby. The learning process can bring you joy and happiness.[17]
    • Try out something you’ve always wanted to do. It could be something like skydiving, doing ballet, kayaking, or creating pottery. Give yourself a few weeks to see if you really love it and if it brings you joy. If you find out it isn’t what you thought, you can always try out something else.
    • Use your new hobby to meet new people, who may also help you be joyful.
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    Indulge in “me” time. Having time to yourself is important for your physical and mental health. “Me time” can help you relax, improve your concentration, allow you to have some self-discovery, and enhance your relationships. Allow yourself to indulge in alone time to reap its benefits, including joyfulness.[18]
    • Use your me time to do things you love that bring you joy. This can be as simple as reading a book or even enjoying some solitary running or kayaking in the woods.
    • Tell someone who asks to go along that you would like to go alone that day. Be nice about it by saying something like, “I’d love for you to go with me, Anna, but I’ve had a really stressful week and need to decompress by myself a bit. I'd be happy to go with you another time, though.”
    • Pamper yourself during your me time. Remember that your me time is meant to bring you joy, including by reducing your stress. You can pamper yourself in a variety of ways such as getting a massage or letting someone fill your gas at the station.
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    Treat yourself. Allow yourself to buy or do something you’ve really wanted for a while. This might be something as simple as a sundae if you’re dieting, getting yourself a jazzy new pair of shoes, or going on an exotic vacation.
    • Avoid treating yourself too often. Treating yourself too frequently makes it less of a "treat" and can also cause financial problems.
    • Consider allowing yourself small treats on a daily basis if you need the pick me up. This could be something such as having a mini candy bar or taking the elevator instead of the stairs.
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    Enjoy a meal out. A nice way to treat and pamper yourself is by going to a restaurant. Having a great meal and attentive service in a cozy environment can help you relax and be joyful. Go to your meal alone or invite your family and/or friends. Order something you love or be a little adventurous and try something new. Make sure to top off the night with a dessert that you love.
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    Spend time with loved ones. Just as it’s important to have “me” time, it’s just as vital to your happiness to spend time with your family and friends. Giving a little time to the ones you love can relax you and bring joy to you — and them.[19]
    • Do activities that you and your family and friends enjoy. This could be going to happy hour or dinner, talking a walk or vacation together, or even just talking on the phone for a few minutes.
    • Be aware that it is more important to spend more time with your loved ones than it is to have “me” time. This allows you to connect to them and experience joy in different ways than simply finding it on your own.
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    Rekindle an old friendship. Do you ever find yourself thinking about that good friend from school or work with whom you’ve lost contact? Find a way to get in contact with the person and you may find she was also thinking about you. Talking to the person and getting together can bring both of you a lot of joy.[20]
    • Find a clever way to contact the person. With social media, it’s often very easy. For example, you could send an old photo of yourself with the person and say, “Remember this? I’ve been thinking about you a lot.” Don’t discount simply calling the person, either.
    • Avoid forcing the friendship. Friendships are never something that should leave you running after another person. You may also find that you need to have a new type of friendship with the person because people do change over time.

Method 3
Bringing Joy to Others

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    Acknowledge a person’s presence. Any time you interact with another person, take a second or two to acknowledge him. Because you never know what is going on in another person’s life, a simple “hello” or “thank you” can go very far in making the person feel worthy and happy. In turn, the person’s reaction may bring you joy with the response you get.[21]
    • Start off any interaction with a smile. It doesn’t even need to be a big, toothy grin. A smile to a person you walk past may get a smile in return. Generally, the nicer you are to others, the more they will want you around and you’ll experience the positive social consequences.
    • Make eye contact whenever you can. Consider greeting others with a cheerful “hello.” Remember to say “please” and “thank you.” Saying these things and incorporating positive behaviors become a habit over time. Even at tough times, they can offer a glimmer of humanity to other people who are struggling.
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    Offer simple acts of kindness. Doing something nice for another person, like offering a compliment or paying for her lunch, can bring both of you a lot of joy.[22] In any situation, consider making a small and kind gesture to another person. Not only will this bring the other person joy, but may also brighten your spirits.
    • Keep in mind that you don’t have to do something grand. Buying coffee for a friend or colleague who is having a hard time or giving someone a kind word can help the other person—and you—be joyful.[23]
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    Volunteer your time with the less fortunate. There are a lot of people in the world who are less fortunate than you. They may not have a home, job, or their health. Giving some time to these people can give them a glimmer of hope and joy and make you feel great, too.[24]
    • Offer your time to a health facility or organization that provides aid to those less fortunate than you. Consider working at a place where your skills may be especially welcome. For example, if you like to paint, you could volunteer to paint with sick children or the elderly. You could also help individuals living in shelters develop their job skills.

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Categories: Happiness & Optimism