How to find and hold onto joy starts with asking what your definition of joy is in the first place. If someone had asked me years ago if I had joy in my life, I would have said, “No!” That’s because my definition of joy meant being in a euphoric state of happiness. If I ever felt that joy, it was due to some outside event or good thing that happened. The feeling never lasted.
Joy is an Inside Job
Joy, by the dictionary’s definition, is: a source of keen pleasure or delight. The emotion of great happiness caused by something good or satisfying.
What I’ve learned is that the finding and holding onto joy isn’t something that happens to you, it flows from within you. Let me explain.
I found joy without really knowing it. I called it a “bottle day.” What I mean by that is that I felt a carefree lightness within my spirit. I wanted to bottle it or hold onto it and use it again.
It was a feeling that lasted all day. Creative ideas came rapidly to me. I had more energy. I would tell my husband Robert, “I want to bottle this day.” That’s when I realized that what I was feeling and what I wanted to bottle was joy.
I want you to have bottle days too! So, here are four simple tips for you to find and hold onto joy.
Tip 1: Find and Hold onto Joy in Just Being
What I realized was that the most predictable way for me to feel this way was on Sunday. On Sunday I unplug from my computer. I don’t work. There’s nothing on the calendar except for attending church, singing in the choir, and usually a walk with our dog. There are no to do lists, no looming deadlines. On Sundays I am free to just be.
Tip 2: Find and Hold onto Joy in Rest
In our ever-busy world, how often do we take time to rest? Even God rested on the seventh day. It’s hard to feel joy when you are worn out!
This being unplugged, frees us from the world of measurement. There are no quotas to make, social media followers to collect, appointments to secure, or even emails to respond to. Sunday, for me, is a day of rest – and joy.
It’s having no cares or worries or great responsibilities looming. So, at least for one day, I set those aside.
Tip 3: Find and Hold onto Joy by Helping Others
If joy is defined by something good or satisfying, helping others is a great way to experience and hold onto joy. One of my core values is developing deep, meaningful relationships. Nothing brings me more joy than to help someone either by connecting them with someone else to meet a need, or to just be there as a source of support. Robert and I were both very involved with caring for our aging parents. While the task could be difficult, there was joy in being able to provide for their needs.
Joy Comes from Being in Flow
I write about joy and flow because they both go together so beautifully. Flow happens when you are focused on any goal and at the same time en-joy the process. It doesn’t mean challenges won’t pop up, but when they do, you stay focused to keep moving.
There is a wonderful quote by Patanjali who said, “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
What blocks joy and flow are the negative thoughts that pop up when you do hit an obstacle; thoughts of worry, anxiety, fear, or condemnation.
Tip 4: Find and Hold onto Joy by Choosing Joy
It sounds simple, but finding and holding onto joy means choosing joy over anxiety, fear, or worry. When I look back on my life, I spent too much time allowing thoughts of fear or just plain frenzy crowd out joy. Now, I recognize when those overwhelming, negative thoughts creep in, I don’t need to hold onto those thoughts. (No bottles for anxiety, fear, or worry!)
You and I have control over our thoughts. That means you and I can choose joy.
I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful in finding and holding onto joy. What is your definition of joy? How do you find and hold onto joy?
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